Canberra, – Brumbies coach Dan McKellar says his tight-knit team are capable of “special things” as they ready for one of world sport’s most gruelling road trips to book their place in the Super Rugby final.
The Australian conference winners thumped South Africa’s Coastal Sharks 38-13 on Saturday evening to set up a tough semi-final in Buenos Aires against a Jaguares outfit packed with internationals.
To keep alive their hopes of snapping a 15-year title drought they face a mammoth trip to Argentina, involving stops in Sydney and Auckland, ahead of Friday night’s blockbuster showdown.
Despite the travel, McKellar is confident his team have what it takes to deliver a club record eighth straight victory and a shot at their third title and first since 2004.
“It has its challenges but we love getting on the road,” he told reporters.
“The boys just enjoy each other’s company and love being around each other.
“I’ve never seen a tighter group of footballers,” he added. “There’s a special feeling and you don’t get that very often within a football team and when you do have it you’ve got to take advantage of it and cash in.”
Awaiting the winner will be either nine-time champions Canterbury Crusaders or the Wellington Hurricanes.
The Brumbies were clinical against the Sharks, getting a try within 60 seconds in an attacking first half before an admirable defensive effort in the second stanza.
The only drawback was two-try hero Pete Samu picking up a hamstring injury.
McKellar said the first half was as good as they have played all year.
“We have confidence, we have belief, we have a group of blokes who love playing footy together, who love wearing the jersey and representing our people,” he said.
“And when you have that, special things can happen. We’re excited about next Friday night and what lies ahead.”
The Jaguares will be playing their first ever semi-final in another massive step forward for a team full of Argentina internationals — 14 started their last eight clash against the Waikato Chiefs and another seven were on the bench.
When they made their tournament debut in 2016, they won only four of 15 matches, but achieved seven victories in their second season then reached the quarter-finals for the first time last year.
Brumbies skipper Christian Lealiifano said facing the Jaguares was the toughest trip in the competition, but is confident his team can get the job done.
“The group enjoy challenges and it’s a big challenge ahead of us but we relish that,” he said.
“You can get caught up in the hype and the travel and all that but we’ll just enjoy it.”