Brumbies skipper happy with underdog tag
SADDLING up for his fifth-straight Super Rugby finals campaign, Brumbies skipper Sam Carter says his side is relishing its underdog status.
But the 27-year-old, who has featured for the Wallabies, has declared it is time for the Australian conference champions to deliver against the in-form Hurricanes.
"I think we kind of thrive under those circumstances,” Carter said.
"That's why we came down to Canberra, for the opportunity to be the underdogs with a point to prove, to come down here and show what we're actually worth because the other franchises wouldn't pick us up.”
While predicted overnight Canberra lows of minus six may tip the scales in the Brumbies' favour, the ACT team will still face a stern challenge in the Hurricanes.
As well as finishing the regular season with the competition's most miserly defence, the Hurricanes are also the best attacking team, and will be boosted by the return of star five-eighth Beauden Barrett.
Barrett's cross-field kicking is considered one of the Hurricanes' most lethal attacking weapons, producing several tries this season.
"We've got to be wary of their threats but we've also got to play the footy we want to play and if we can do that I know we can get a good result,” Carter said.
"We need to play to our strengths which is our set-piece.”
The last time the Brumbies played host to the Hurricanes, in round one of 2016, they thrashed the Kiwi side 52-10. That match was the last time the Brumbies beat a New Zealand Super Rugby club.
The Hurricanes went some way to avenging that loss by soundly defeating the Brumbies 56-21 in Napier this year, but that Canberra loss still hurts.
"It's obviously something we talk about amongst the team and we talk about how last time we were here we were obviously an embarrassing outfit,” Hurricanes star Brad Shields said.
"We embarrassed ourselves in front of the Canberra Stadium and obviously let the Hurricanes brand down.”
As well as the dream of claiming back-to-back Super Rugby premierships, the Hurricanes will be keen to send departing players Callum Gibbins, Mark Abbott and Loni Uhila out on a winning note.
The Brumbies have their own inspiration with former Wallabies star Christian Lealiifano expected to make his first appearance for the Brumbies since overcoming leukaemia.
The Brumbies were grand finalists in 2013 before semi-final appearances in 2014 and 2015.
They were eliminated in a home quarter-final by the Highlanders last year.
Quarter-finals: Friday: 7.45pm (4) Brumbies v (5) Hurricanes, Canberra; Saturday: 5.35pm (2) Crusaders v (7) Highlanders, Christchurch; 10.30pm (1) Lions v (8) Sharks, Johannesburg; Sunday: 1am (3) Stormers v (6) Chiefs, Cape Town (all times AEST)