SYDNEY (Reuters) - The ACT Brumbies will need to turn up for the physical contest if they are to beat the Auckland Blues at Eden Park on Saturday and start changing the conversation about Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, coach Dan McKellar said on Thursday.
The Brumbies, runners up in the Australian competition this year, were a Noah Lolesio kick away from starting their Trans-Tasman campaign with a draw at the Canterbury Crusaders.
Last week, however, they came badly unstuck in a 40-19 thrashing at the hands of the Waikato Chiefs in Hamilton, a result that contributed to Australian sides being winless after 10 matches in the competition.
"We were incredibly disappointed with our performance against the Chiefs ... it's the first time in a long time that we've been well beaten," McKellar told reporters from New Zealand.
"This week is about getting a response and changing a little bit of the conversation about Australian teams and New Zealand teams.
"Whilst we can only control what the Brumbies do, we feel like we've got a responsibility to the game and we let ourselves down last Saturday night."
McKellar said his players had been clearly second best in the physical exchanges against the Chiefs, allowing All Blacks fullback Damian McKenzie to run riot off front-foot ball.
"We understand that you are not going to win in New Zealand without having a real thirst for that physical contact in the collision area, be it at the tackle or the set piece," he added.
"We've got to be better there."
The Brumbies were not the only Australian team to be bested in the collision area by their New Zealand opponents in round two of the competition and McKellar said it was a matter of mindset as much as anything.
"A lot of it's between the ears, you've got to turn up with physical intent," he said. "We know most of the New Zealand teams offer a similar challenge. Last week we weren't mentally where we needed to be and that'll be different on Saturday night."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Shri Navaratnam)