Rebels' Gerrard ready for Brumbies of old
By Melissa Woods and Guy Hand
MELBOURNE, April 11 AAP – Melbourne Rebels veteran Mark Gerrard says their Super Rugby opponents on Saturday are like the Brumbies of old.
And given Gerrard was an integral member of that 2004 title-winning line-up, he should know.
The Rebels will travel to Canberra Stadium buoyed by their success against the Blues, which was their second win of the season, while the Brumbies, who lost to the Reds last round, welcome back livewire back Robbie Coleman who hasn’t played since round one due to a groin injury.
Gerrard won 77 caps with the Brumbies between 2003 and 2009 and scored three tries in their epic grand final win over the Crusaders in 2004.
After a two-year hiatus in Japan, Gerrard returned to Australia to join Melbourne last season and is just two games short of his 100th Super appearance.
The 29-year-old said he’s not surprised by the Brumbies’ success this season which has them leading the Australian conference ahead of defending champions Queensland.
He said he could see the impact former Wallabies playmaker and his old teammate Stephen Larkham was having on the Canberra side.
“With Stephen Larkham on board it seems like the Brumbies of old with the first three phases of attack,” Gerrard said
“Seeing the way they present themselves in those breakdowns in something we used to do quite well.
“They’re probably the form Australian team.”
He said his team needed to match the physicality of the Brumbies’ imposing back-row of Ben Mowen, Peter Kimlin and Ita Vaea as well as Michael Hooper off the bench to get on top of the home team.
Gerrard has wound back the clock this season and looks rejuvenated by the quality of other attacking spearheads now at the Rebels such as Wallabies Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor and Englishman Danny Cipriani.
“This is the second week we’ll have our full backline together I think we’re getting there slowly.”
Melbourne will name their line-up on Thursday and will bring a new prop on to the bench following Laurie Weeks’ serious shoulder injury, with Eddie Aholelei or Oliver Hoskins to get to nod.
A spokesman for the Brumbies, who will also confirm their line-up on Thursday, said Coleman was set to start on bench.
12 Apr 7:45 AM