Larkham confident Brumbies will be stronger for Blues rematch

rugby09 June 2024 07:00| © Reuters
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Stephen Larkham © Getty Images

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is hoping to avoid another chastening experience when his team take on the Blues in Friday's Super Rugby Pacific semifinals having already suffered a heavy loss at Eden Park this season.

Larkham's side are the only Australian team remaining in the competition following their 32-16 win over the Highlanders on Saturday as the Melbourne Rebels and the Reds exited to opposition from across the Tasman Sea.

But the Brumbies' hopes of a first international Super Rugby title in 20 years face a major hurdle in the last four clash as they resume hostilities with a Blues side that inflicted a 46-7 thrashing on them in April.

"We've played over there once this year and it didn't work for us," Larkham said of the previous meeting.

"We'll just take it one week at a time, like you have to do in finals footie, and we'll get everything right in terms of our recovery and our preparation and give ourselves the best chance when we get over there.

"We'll have a different game plan, a different strategy and the boys will be fresher. We'll have a stronger team to pick from and this one means a lot to us."

In 28 years of Super Rugby, no Australian team has won a playoff game in New Zealand, but a strong second half showing in Canberra against the Highlanders means Larkham's team have given themselves the opportunity to end that dismal run.

The Brumbies will be appearing in their third semifinal in a row having lost by a single point to the Blues in 2022 at Eden Park before being eliminated by the Chiefs last season.

"We've been in this situation the last couple of years, in 2022 we played the Blues in the semifinal and we lost right at the end of the game, so we've basically achieved nothing yet, we've spoken about that," said Larkham.

"We've got through this week and I thought the boys played really well in the second half and we've just got our focus on next week now."