CHRIS DUTTON July 13, 2012
Brumbies player Robbie Coleman during training at Brumbies HQ, Griffith. Photo: Melissa Adams
ACT Brumbies coach Jake White is refusing to let finals talk distract him from his mission to build for the future as he continues to lock in his stars of the future.
The Canberra Times can reveal Robbie Coleman has committed to a two-year contract extension which will keep the Queanbeyan junior with the Brumbies until at least the end of the 2015 season.
Coleman's contract didn't expire until the end of the 2013 campaign. But White has put his faith in the talented and versatile back to continue his rapid rise to the top in the coming seasons.
Coleman is the latest player to re-commit to the Brumbies as they sit on the verge of their first finals appearance since 2004.
White has reinvigorated Brumbies' headquarters and instilled a belief in the players that they are capable of long-term success.
There is just one roster spot free in White's squad for next season and he is waiting to hear if Western Force flanker David Pocock will decide to move to Canberra.
The Brumbies' finals charge could influence Pocock's decision with the new-generation squad capable of being a championship contender this year.
If they beat the Auckland Blues at Canberra Stadium tomorrow afternoon, they will cap off a spectacular rise from the ashes of a horror season last year.
And White has a warning for any teams thinking the Brumbies will be easy-beats in the finals - their best is yet to come.
White has prepared his team to physically and mentally reach their peak on August 4 - the weekend of the Super Rugby final.
''If you look at the fixture list there are a couple of open Saturdays which say quarter-finals, semi-finals and final, you've got to believe you're going to be a part of that,'' White said.
''If you don't prepare that you're going to be playing on the fourth [of August], chances are you won't be.
''It's not just a mental thing.
''We prepared that our starting point in this competition was February and our end date was August 4.
''All the conditioning, the travel plans, the recovery have been based that we want to be at our best on August 4 when you run into the final.''
Even if the Brumbies lose to the Blues, the Queensland Reds need a bonus-point win over the NSW Waratahs to usurp them at the top of the Australian conference.
It's a position few thought the Brumbies would be in when the season started five months ago.
But White has been plotting for a finals charge and is confident his team can continue its form.
The Brumbies have lost just two games at Canberra Stadium this year - to the Reds and the Durban Sharks. They haven't played in the capital since they lost to the Reds by one point on May 26.
While the Brumbies were tipped to finish in the bottom half of the ladder, the Blues were expected to be a title contender with a star roster.
Despite being poised to clinch a finals berth, the Brumbies are yet to beat a team in the top seven in the competition.
But centre Andrew Smith said the team wasn't fazed.
''It's not really [significant] because every game has been close,'' Smith said.
''There have only been a few points in it and one of the strengths of the group is the belief we have.
''We feel we can beat any team on our day so we'll be confident about whoever we play … there is still pressure on us, we have to win to get in and we just have to keep winning.''