An unscathed trip to the cheetah pen at Canberra’s National Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday has proven to the University of Canberra Brumbies they can handle big, African cats.
Ahead of their clash with the Bloemfontein outfit on Saturday afternoon, Captain Ben Mowen and outside back Joe Tomane ventured out to Canberra’s iconic zoo to meet and greet a set of cheetahs.
Saturday is Family Day at Canberra Stadium, with an afternoon kick-off time and discount family ticket pricing a big draw card for families around at the ACT and its surrounding regions.
Making Saturday's match even more memorable is a career landmark for Ben Alexander, who knocks over his 50th cap for the University of Canberra Brumbies and Super Rugby in front of his home fans.
The Cheetahs (human, rugby-playing variety) landed in Australia on Tuesday and will name a different side to the one that was punished by the Bulls last weekend.
Mowen was pleased to get up-close and personal with one of the world’s most intriguing animals but was aware his next encounter would be anything but a game of pat and purr.
“You don’t get those opportunities every day, but I don’t think they’ll be as calm as that this weekend,” Mowen said.
“The Cheetahs are coming off a heavy loss and usually that galvanises a team and makes them stronger. We pulled up nicely after the bye, which arrived at just the right time.
“We prepared accordingly for it and with a reasonably hard week of training in and around the rain we have still had a quality build up.
“It’s an afternoon game and Family Day this weekend so we want to get a big crowd out there. The main thing with the Cheetahs is that if you take them lightly they will punish you, we won’t be doing that.”
Tomane was also impressed with the big cats having encountered them earlier in his life on a school trip to South Africa.
The rampaging outside-back said that while he was looking forward to the weekend, he would not be taking the rugby playing variety of Cheetah lightly on Saturday afternoon.
“All South African teams are very physical, we’re looking at a tough battle this weekend but we know we’re up to the task,” Tomane said.
“It was a pretty tough bye – I wouldn’t call it a holiday or a break we got flogged a couple of times but it’s good to be back in game mode now, it’s Family Day this Saturday I’m flying my little girl down for the game this Saturday.
“I’m guessing she’ll be one of hundreds of kids there with an afternoon kick-off which is pretty exciting.”
As part of family day at Canberra Stadium, the University of Canberra Brumbies are offering a special family priced ticket which lets one child in free.
For the kids, the National Zoo and Aquarium will bring along some of their reptiles while the pass and kick the ball competitions, jumping castle and face painting will also provide plenty for the younger fans to cheer about.
The University of Canberra Brumbies will name their team to face the Cheetahs on Thursday.
University of Canberra Brumbies Family Day
University of Canberra Brumbies v Cheetahs
Canberra Stadium, Bruce
Referee: Keith Brown