The Brumbies finished the regular season of Super Rugby last year as one of the form teams of the competition, despite missing the finals. They had a horror first half of the season, but hit their stride later on to claim solid victories over some top teams like the Hurricanes and Waratahs. They will look to continue their run this year, and are hoping to return to finals football.
They look to have a strong forward pack combined with flashy outside backs, but the key to unleashing all that potential will come through halves Joe Powell and Christian Lealiifano. Neither player is a regular Wallaby, although both have had at least some experience in a gold jersey.
The Brumbies have recruited well over the off season, and look to have at the very least replaced the players who have left. Notable departures include club legend prop Ben Alexander (retired) and barnstorming number 8 Isi Naisarani (Melbourne), while centre Kyle Godwin, who was tipped for big things but has never fulfilled his potential, has left for Europe.
They have been replaced by prop James Slipper, who captained the Reds and was a regular Wallaby before two failed drug tests, Pete Samu, who has come from the Crusaders and was a regular for Australia last year, and Toni Pulu from the Chiefs.
If the Brumbies can pick up where they left off they will be a big threat, especially early in the season. If they struggle to get the connection between their forwards and backs, however, they will miss the finals for a second year in a row. Halfback Joe Powell will be critical here- he needs to add some urgency to his game in order to take advantage of any opportunities the forwards can create. Star flanker David Pocock will also be important in forging this link.
The game tomorrow night against the Rebels in Canberra will give us a barometer on the finals chances of the Brumbies.
Prediction: either just scrape in or just miss out on the finals.