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Image courtesy of, Photo: Brendan Francis
The Reds must overcome a horror record against the Brumbies. Image courtesy of,Photo: Brendan Francis

It is the first full-round of the Super Rugby competition with two highly-rated teams opening the Australian conference. The Brumbies were just 15 minutes away from glory in last year’s final before being run-over by the Chiefs, while the Reds were eliminated in the first week of the play-offs by red-hot Crusaders.

Since then, there have been major changes to both outfits, on and off the field. Wallaby legend Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fischer have taken over the coaching reins from Jake White at the ACT, while Richard Graham stepped into the Queensland job when Ewen McKenzie got the Wallaby gig.

The Reds’ biggest problem is their poor record against the men from the nation’s capital. The Brumbies have won 17 of 22 clashes between the two sides, the best record they have against any team they’ve faced more than 10 times.

The visitors received good news earlier in the week when star number 10 Quade Cooper was cleared to play. Cooper was in serious doubt after being stretchered off in a neck brace following a crusher tackle in last week’s trial loss to the Rebels. His battle with his old schoolboy rugby rival, Matt Toomua, will go a long way to determining the outcome of the battle between two major Aussie contenders. Toomua has made it clear he’s gunning for Cooper’s Wallaby jumper, after being squeezed out to the centres last year. Larkham has also given his Brumbies more freedom to attack from long range, which could really open this game up as a spectacle.

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