23 May Muirhead becomes Brumby #195
When Andy Muirhead took to the field in the final minute of the 19-10 win over the Southern Kings at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on the weekend, he officially added his name to the long list of Brumbies Super Rugby players.
Muirhead became Brumby #195 when he jogged on to replace Henry Speight in the dying embers of the come-from-behind defeat of the South Africans, with selection for the ACT franchise culminating a long journey from Queensland to the National Capital.
“It would be close to calling it a dream come true,” Muirhead said as the team touched down in Buenos Aires for the latest chapter of their two-week tour, a fixture against the Jaguares at the Jose Amalfitani Stadium on Saturday evening (local time).
“It’s obviously something that I have been wanting to do for a long time now. To be able to have that opportunity is pretty surreal, and it probably hasn’t really sunk in yet to be honest.
“The last five minutes came and I hadn’t been on yet, and I didn’t think I was going to get on, but Bernie [Stephen Larkham] looked after me and put me on for a couple of seconds on the wing and I obviously hope to get a few more minutes in the coming weeks.”
Muirhead made the decision to move to Canberra and try his luck with the Brumbies before Christmas and has put in a superb shift to make his chances of getting onto the field for a competitive match a reality.
“Coming down here was a big step for me,” he revealed. “I have been training with the Brumbies for the past six months now and I had sort of counted myself out of the season in terms of getting some game time, and didn’t expect to be on this tour.
“But I guess training hard over the last couple of months and getting into the squad is justification for making that move.”
The Brumbies turned around a 5-10 half-time deficit to claim the points against the Kings in Port Elizabeth, an interval score-line that was hard to swallow after the visitors had dominated possession and territory in the opening forty. But the recovery showed just how much faith the team has in each other, and its processes.
“Most of our losses have been close losses, so it’s nice to be able to get one of those go our way,” Muirhead said. “Having that much possession, we could have beaten them by a lot more, but all the boys are stoked to get the win and get that monkey off the back.
“[At half-time] We were told to keep doing what we were doing and hopefully things would go our way. It was a bit dewy and that didn’t help with the dropped balls but we just wanted to keep pushing ourselves, trying our passes and hopefully they would come off in the end.
“The atmosphere was awesome and the crowd was pretty vocal. I wasn’t really expecting that to be honest. During the week, we thought we might get a smaller crowd and, while it wasn’t at capacity, it certainly sounded very loud.”
A massive day of travel followed for the Brumbies with plane trips from Port Elizabeth-Johannesburg-Sao Paolo-Buenos Aires on the agenda, meaning another switch in time zones and further complications ahead of the Jaguares test.
“It was a huge day yesterday and the boys were pretty tired at the end of it,” Muirhead confirmed. “But, because of the sleep plan we have been given by the staff, the boys will feel fresh after a day of recovery.
“We haven’t looked at them [Jaguares] too much yet and this week we will obviously be concentrating on them. We will review their matches, see how they play, and who to look out for on their team over the next few days.
“Getting another win this weekend would put us in the right direction and the boys have been building towards that win [against the Kings] and I think it could be a huge momentum shift. We have been unlucky, but now we have the opportunity to build towards possible finals football.”
The Brumbies meet the Jaguares this Saturday 27 May at 6.40pm local time, 7.40am (Sunday morning), AEST.