After forging a 10-game partnership, University of Canberra Brumbies centre pairing of Pat McCabe and Andrew Smith feel they are working nicely together and enjoying their newly formed combination in the team’s midfield.
Both players spent time on the wing during 2011 but have gelled to form the backbone of one of the most potent backlines in the Super Rugby competition.
Since leaving for South Africa just four games ago, the University of Canberra Brumbies have laid on 16 tries, many being orchestrated through the backs.
“There’s a huge amount of trust and belief there in the group, even if we are down that we can score points and make improvements to what we may be doing wrong,” McCabe said.
“There’s no doubt we’re a better attacking side than last year. It’s always nice to be scoring tries.
“Our breakdown efficiency is something we’ve worked hard on and will inevitably be a big focus for us again this weekend against the Reds. There’s a lot more confidence in our backline – it’s not just the same guys stepping up but everyone’s sharing the load a bit more which is really encouraging.”
Since returning from last year’s World Cup, McCabe has become the old head in the University of Canberra Brumbies backline. With the loss of Christian Lealiifano, McCabe and Smith have been asked to step up and lead by example, with the vast majority of their backline team mates boasting no more than 10 or 12 caps.
Since the start of 2012, Smith has taken his opportunities featuring in every game and starting all but one. In previous years the imposing outside back has found it tough maintaining a regular starting spot, with injuries often keeping him on the pine.
“As each game goes by we have more trust in each other to carry out our own game plan. We’ve seen that trust grow each week,” Smith said.
“My combination with Pat has be improving over the last 10 weeks too. We’ve both been able to connect to our five-eighths, losing Bruzy and Matt wasn’t ideal but I think Zack stood up on the weekend and I enjoyed playing with him too.
“For me personally, I feel like having been given a bit more opportunity this year has been great for my own confidence. I feel like I’ve taken my opportunities when they’ve come along and it’s nice to be enjoying my rugby.”
The Reds backline is widely regarded as one of the most difficult to defend in Super Rugby, with Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper and Will Genia all hitting top form coming into Saturday night’s clash.
Fans are being asked to turn out in droves for the clash with the Reds, with more than 20,000 expected to head through the gates to see the top-of-the-table clash at Canberra Stadium.
University of Canberra Brumbies v Reds
Canberra Stadium, Bruce
H/W: 194cm, 104kg
DOB: 10/01/1985, Sydney, NSW
Senior Club: Easts, ACT
Super Rugby Caps: 26
Super Rugby Points: 25 (5t)
Super Rugby Debut: 2010 v Blues, Auckland
H/W: 186cm, 94kg
DOB: 21/03/1988, Sydney, NSW
Senior Club: Western Districts, ACT
Super Rugby Caps: 37
Super Rugby Points: 30 (6t)
Super Rugby Debut: 2010 v Force, Perth
Test Rugby Caps: 11
Test Rugby Points: 10 (2t)
Test Rugby Debut: 2010 v Italy, Florence