Reds' scrum depth to face Brumbies test
Zane Nonggorr has leant on ACT Brumbies prop James Slipper for scrum tips in the past but they might dry up if the Queensland Reds upstart can exploit them in Canberra.
The tighthead prop admits there is a degree of pressure linked to coming into the Reds' front row to replace Taniela Tupou, who's currently injured and will soon depart for the Melbourne Rebels.
But he's enjoyed the test in a 1-1 start to the Super Rugby Pacific season, with Queensland's historic 10-try mauling of the Western Force on Sunday offsetting a nasty round-one loss to the Hurricanes.
Nonggorr knows arguably his biggest test awaits in Canberra on Saturday, however, with the Brumbies' scrum and set piece a clear Australian rugby benchmark powered by Wallabies props Allan Alaalatoa and Slipper.
The 21-year-old revealed he has used his club rugby contacts to strike up post-game conversations with former Reds captain Slipper in previous tussles.
"They're a world class scrum with two Wallaby props there and it's exciting to play against world class players," Nonggorr said.
"You learn from mistakes, celebrate the little wins. I'm really looking forward to it."
Tupou's combination of craft and sheer strength has agitated the Brumbies' set piece in recent seasons, with home ground advantage the only difference between two evenly-matched outfits.
"Yeah, there's a bit of pressure (to replace Tupou)," Nonggorr said. "He's been pretty dominant on the field, is a once-in-a-generation player, and some of the stuff he does is pretty crazy.
"But us playing together as a team, we can be pretty dominant as well."
Former Brumby Dan Palmer's work as the ACT's scrum coach has been lauded, but the Reds have their own scrum guru in former All Blacks prop and ex-referee Kane Hames.
Replacing past Wallabies forward Cameron Lillicrap, the 34-year-old Hames has been charged with ironing out the Reds' set piece and improving their discipline.
"He's a bit more scientific and technical about how he thinks," Nonggorr said.
"But he wants us to get in there in training and have a go at each other."