Brumbies to target Highlander Cowan

The Brumbies are making no secret of their intention to target All Black No.9 Jimmy Cowan in Friday’s Super 14 season-opener against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

After losing a ton of experience and skill Cowan is one of the seniors of the side and they plan to build their game around him as he has fare more experience than his team mates.

At 26 Cowan is his team’s most experienced Super Rugby  player and one of only five in the squad with more than 20 games experience.

All Black Cowan also has 19 caps which is almost twice the number that his fellow Highlander All Blacks Adam Thomson (nine Tests) and Jamie Mackintosh (one) have.

“He’s their heart and soul so I feel if we can put a bit of pressure on him, hopefully they won’t perform as well,” said Patrick Phibbs who will play opposite Cowan for the Brumbies.

“That’s just one of the goals for the game I suppose and we’ll just go from there because he does get them on the front foot.”

Phibbs beat off Josh Holmes for the Brumbies’ starting spot after impressive performances in trials against the Hurricanes and Waratahs.

“It just worked out that I played all right in the two games and made the most of my opportunities,” Phibbs told AAP from Dunedin.

“I’ve just worked on my all-round game this year … and it tends to be showing a bit on the field.

“I definitely wanted the starting position, that was my number one goal for this year.”

“We’ve got a very unified team here so he wished me the best of luck and we’ll go from there,” said Phibbs of his rival.

“It’s great to have that bit of competition breathing down on you because it spurs you on to play better.”

Both sides named their players for the match in Dunedin and the Brumbies have far more international experience with Stirling Mortlock and Adam Ashley-Cooper in the centres and former Test winger Mark Gerrard at fullback amongst others.

Clyde Rathbone also makes his return to rugby after sitting on the sideline since March 2007.

Highlanders coach Glenn Moore named something of a rookie backline with up to five debutants out wide.

“We’ve watched the last couple of trials they’ve played,” Phibbs said of the Brumbies’ opponents.

“They usually tend to play the same sort of game. They keep it in the forwards a bit.

“But we’ve noticed this year they’ve got a bit of a trend. They’ve got a few new attacking backs which is a new dynamic, and young blokes too.

“So I’m sure they’re definitely going to spin it wide and have a go at us.”


Brumbies: Mark Gerrard, Clyde Rathbone, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Stirling Mortlock, Francis Fainifo, Christian Lealiifano, Patrick Phibbs, Stephen Hoiles (capt), George Smith, Julian Salvi, Mark Chisholm, Ben Hand, Guy Shepherdson, Stephen Moore, Nic Henderson.

Reserves: John Ulugia, Ben Alexander, Sitaleki Timani, Peter Kimlin, Josh Holmes, Tyrone Smith, Matt Toomua.

Highlanders: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Jason Shoemark, Johnny Leota/Jayden Hayward, Fetu’u Vainikolo, Daniel Bowden, Jimmy Cowan (capt), Steven Setephano, Alando Soakai, Adam Thomson, Hayden Triggs, Josh Bekhuis, Clint Newland, David Hall, Jamie Mackintosh.


Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Chris King, George Naoupu, Tim Boys, Sean Romans, Jayden Hayward/Brett Mather, Kenny Lynn.

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