White looking to finish off Brumbies cameo with Aussie Super title

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Arguably no one has a better claim to the Wallabies’ number nine shirt than Nic White but the former Exeter Chief will be biding his time on the bench for the ACT Brumbies in the Super Rugby AU final against the Queensland Reds on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - Australia Captain's Run - Oita Stadium, Japan - October 18, 2019 Australia's Nic White during Captain's Run. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Joe Powell will be starting scrumhalf for the domestic title match, relegating White to a finishing role at Canberra Stadium where the Brumbies will look to reinforce their claim as Australia’s most dominant provincial side.

White, who played for the Brumbies between 2011-2015 and was a former vice captain along with David Pocock, returned to Canberra mid-year after spells with Montpellier and Exeter.

The 30-year-old said he is fine with starting on the bench given he did not expect to get a game in the tournament at all.

“I wasn’t part of the decision but I’ve only played four games in what feels like a bloody long eight months,” he told Reuters after training on Friday.

“So, I’m sort of working out the rust at the moment.

“It’s four more games than I thought I’d get coming back.

“I’m glad they put a lot of faith in me, even just to sneak onto the bench. So I’m very thankful for that. I just feel lucky to have been able to come home to play a small role in it.”

While White rejoined the Wallabies fold at last year’s World Cup in Japan, he played his first game in five years for the Dan McKellar-coached Brumbies in August.

Names and positions have changed during his absence but for White, the Brumbies’ fundamentals remain as strong as ever.

“I think the bedrock of what this club is about hasn’t changed and that’s the hard work of being here in Canberra, being a close group,” he said.

“A lot of the guys are not from here and have come to play for the team, and that certainly contributes to that (culture).

“That’s put these guys in this position to be able to play a final at home.”

The Brumbies go into the title clash refreshed, having earned a week off for finishing top of the table at the end of the regular season.

They were able to rest and watch the Reds book their place in the final with a tough win over the Melbourne Rebels.

Only 6,000 fans will be permitted at Canberra Stadium under social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19, a doubling of the previous limit of 3,000.

“It is certainly bittersweet and a shame that we can’t have a full house but we also kind of feel that 6,000 is a lot for what’s become the norm over recent times,” said White.

“When we were playing here with 3,000 it felt like a hell of a lot.

“It’s been a whirlwind of a year for everybody in the world.

“We’d love to finish off what’s been an interesting season, certainly a very different one. And one that we’re certainly proud as a group how we’ve dealt with it.”

Editing Peter Rutherford