A fresh Ben Alexander believes the emergence of fellow ACT Brumbies prop Scott Sio opens the way for his own game to have more of an impact.
Alexander played almost every minute of the 2011 Super Rugby season, with Wallabies duties on top, but has spent the past two weeks coming off the bench.
He was meant to start in the 23-20 win over the Pretoria Bulls on Saturday night, but a stomach bug last week forced him to the bench with Sio starting in his place.
Brumbies coach Jake White preferred to give Alexander more time to recover rather than risking him in a starting role.
The 21-year-old Sio took his chance with both hands and played a large part in Robbie Coleman’s first-half try.
Sio broke the Bulls line and the next phase resulted in Coleman crossing the line after the half-time hooter.
Declaring himself fully fit and over the bug, Alexander is hopeful the break will increase his own impact when he does return to the starting line-up.
”That’s it exactly, it is a long season, there’s a lot of games and it does take it out of you,” he said on Sunday.
”You’ve got to look at how long the seasons are, if you’re playing every game you’re going to run out of puff.
”While you’ll still be out there you won’t be contributing your best, that’s why it’s good rotating, sharing the load and keeping guys fresh.
”Especially in the front row where it’s a physical position.”
Alexander said Sio had all the weapons needed in Super Rugby and predicted a ”bright future” for his fellow prop.
He said the top teams had depth in every position and pointed to when the Canterbury Crusaders rotated the Franks brothers, Owen and Ben, and Wyatt Crockett through the front row.
The Brumbies also have Ruaidhri Murphy bolstering their prop stocks.
”Scotty’s been awesome as everyone’s saying,” Alexander said. ”He’s a big lump of a lad and he’s got a good attitude.
”He’s willing to listen … and he’s bearing the fruits of that, a pretty bright future. He’s put in two good performances, so he’s just got to keep to it and keep going well, and expect big things from him.”
Alexander said a Wallabies cap was on the horizon for Sio, while his coach said he was a ”great talent”.
White has been impressed with how Sio has settled into the starting line-up since earning his starting debut against the Durban Sharks at Kings Park two weeks ago.
He then played the full 80 minutes against both the Cape Town Stormers and the Bulls.
”Not just this week, he’s stepped up every week,” White said of Sio.
”He stepped up against the Sharks, he’s now played the Stormers and he’s played three really big South African sides.
”I’m sure he’ll get a lot of confidence out of playing against a Bulls pack.
”Scott’s a talent, he’s a great talent. He’s now learnt what it’s like – three big South African sides in a row and he’s got three starts in a row.”
White said he was delighted with the improvement of the Brumbies’ scrum. ”It’s fantastic … not only because we scrummed well [against the Bulls], but that we’re developing our frontrowers,” he said.
The Brumbies’ next test is against the Southern Kings at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.
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