Injured Brumbies No.8 Fotu Auelua is still two months away from playing. Photo: Jeffrey ChanInjured No.8 Fotu Auelua says the ACT Brumbies have the players and ability for a more attacking game plan and they won’t ”shy away” from that against the Western Force in Perth on Saturday, despite their ”messy” loss to Queensland Reds.
And he said fullback Jesse Mogg’s relaxed character would help him move on from his costly fumble and ”rewrite his mistakes” this weekend.
Auelua is still two months away from returning after damaging his medial ligament in a pre-season trial, but the specialist was happy with his progress on Monday.
The powerful ball-runner has been doing conditioning work in the pool, as well as restricted weights, but he won’t be out of his knee brace for another 4-5 weeks.
He told Fairfax Media earlier this year that he’d struggled with post-surgery depression after having a shoulder reconstruction last year. But he is in a much better state of mind at the moment.
Auelua said having fellow injured Brumby Christian Lealiifano (ankle) had helped him deal with the mental blow of missing the first half of the 2014 Super Rugby season.
Plus Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie had said he was still in his plans for the mid-season Tests against France despite the injury.
”I kind of had my down days with the shoulder and obviously the day I did my knee I was pretty shattered, you kind of beat yourself up a little bit, but coming back from that is not that far away and you just need to focus on getting back on the field,” Auelua said.
He said it was frustrating watching Saturday night’s 27-17 loss to the Reds from the grandstand, where the Brumbies were their ”own worst enemies”.
And he said the loss, plus the Force ”smacking them round the park” in Perth last season, would have the Brumbies ”pretty angry” when they run out at nib Stadium.
Auelua felt the experience of players like David Pocock, who will play his former club in a Brumbies jersey for the first time, Matt Toomua and Henry Speight would be crucial in lifting the province. And he said the team backed captain Ben Mowen’s decisions when it came to opting to either take the penalty shot or kick for a lineout in the corner.
”We back our ability to score tries and our attacking game,” he said.
”We don’t want to be a team that will shy away from scoring tries, we want to score tries every game and last weekend didn’t showcase any of our attacking ability.
”We’ve got the players and the ability to play that style of rugby.”
Mogg produced a mixed bag against the Reds – scoring a try, getting held up across the line and fumbling a kick that led Queensland to put the game beyond reach in the dying minutes.
But Auelua backed Mogg to ”let it slide”. It was the 24-year-old’s first Super Rugby game since having a shoulder reconstruction last year after making his Wallabies debut.
”Jesse is one of the key players in the team,” Auelua said.
”He had some great moments and some not-so-great moments – those kind of moments either make or break you, but the good thing about Jesse is he’s got that relaxed atmosphere about him where he can let it slide.
”This weekend he’ll want to rewrite the mistakes he did … and he’s only going to get better.
”That’s the dangerous thing, we haven’t got the best out of him yet.”
■ SATURDAYWestern Force v ACT Brumbies at nib Stadium, Perth, 10pm.
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