McKellar backs rookie backrower Brown in Pocock's absence
Coach Dan McKellar’s loss of superstar David Pocock has been partially offset at the Brumbies by the uncovering of hidden gem Jahrome Brown during this Super Rugby season.
McKellar has backed his band of unheralded back-rowers to lead the Brumbies to the finals as they continue to deliver in the absence of Pocock, who retired from Super Rugby on Tuesday.
Tom Cusack and Brown have started the past five games with Wallaby Pete Samu and McKellar said he’ll stick with them for the Brumbies clash against the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday.
Young gun Rob Valetini returned off the bench last week and Lachlan McCaffrey is also back in the back-row selection frame.
McKellar says he knew the quintet were all “very good footballers” when he signed them but admits Brown’s sublime form has surpassed his expectations.
Former Junior All Blacks flanker Brown was signed on a temporary deal in January as an injury replacement for Ben Hyne, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament.
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“Jahrome has been the surprise package, but once we got our eyes on him and had him in the system for a couple of months we soon worked out he was going to be good enough at this level,” McKellar said.
“A lot of the time you unearth new talent off the unfortunate circumstances of others and that’s how we found Jahrome, when Ben Hyne disappointingly had another injury.
“Poey has been out, Rob was out as well, which gave Jahrome an opportunity and now we know we’ve got a really good footballer.
“The reality, all those (back-row) boys have performed really well.”
The Brumbies lead the Australian conference with three rounds to go but McKellar admitted the bottom-placed, yet unpredictable, Sunwolves posed a threat.
“We know they’re going to be dangerous. They’re always tricky, especially up there in front of a good crowd in Tokyo,” McKellar said.
Meanwhile, the Brumbies have signed NSW flanker Will Miller for next season, while Valetini and Cusack have penned contract extensions and Brown is still negotiating a new deal.
The Brumbies take on the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday June 1, kicking off at 3:15pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.