Skipper urges Brumbies to muscle up against the Blues

Straight-shooting skipper Allan Alaalatoa is challenging his ACT Brumbies to man up or face Super Rugby Pacific elimination in Friday night's do-or-die semi-final against the Blues.

The Brumbies travel to Eden Park having not beaten the Blues at Australian rugby's traditional graveyard since 2013 and coming off a 46-7 last-up loss to the Aucklanders in April.

Coach Stephen Larkham lamented the Brumbies not muscling up in the club's heaviest-ever defeat to the Blues, and Alaalatoa knows his side must win the physical battle to have any hope of turning the tables.

And he's confident they can, having won seven straight matches since that round-10 lesson.

The Brumbies beat the table-topping Hurricanes the following week and have also taken down the defending champion Crusaders and fellow Kiwi side the Highlanders during that run.

Andy Muirhead of the Brumbies celebrates.
The Brumbies have been in impressive form since their round-10 loss to the Blues.

While no Australian team has ever won a finals match in New Zealand, Alaalatoa is convinced the Brumbies can create history - if they match the Blues physically.

"Last year and the year before was probably the first time the boys have been over to New Zealand playing in the finals and experiencing what it's like to play at Eden Park as well," he said on Monday.

"So we're going to lean on those experiences from those boys who were there.

"The squad that's here now, the players have been around for a number of years and were involved in  those last two years.

"So having the experience of playing semi-finals over there is going to be massive for us."

The veteran front-rower accepts the Brumbies must improve significantly at scrum time after being dominated at the set piece last time around against the Blues.

 "That was a tough lesson," Alaalatoa said.

"That was something that we addressed straight away and had to apply throughout the rest of the season, and I thought that the boys have been really good learning from that.

"So we know that's coming, but we also know more importantly what we're going to bring.

"We've got to be better in that aspect of what we delivered then. 

"But I'm so confident ... the way that we've grown throughout the year and the way that we've bounced back after wins and the way that boys are opening up in the meeting spaces and how we're challenging each other on the training field.

"It's not only the 23 who are going to play, but you can see the contribution of the blokes outside of that who are really challenging and want to do their part for the jersey."

The victors will play the winners of the second semi-final between the Hurricanes and Chiefs in Wellington on Saturday in next week's title decider.

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