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Brumbies' Powell keen to show up mentor Cubelli in Super semi

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BUENOSAIRES (Reuters) – ACT Brumbies scrumhalf Joe Powell has more than just a place in the Super Rugby final to motivate him when the Australians meet the Jaguares in the semi-final on Friday.

He also has a mentor to upstage.

The Brumbies have made the long trip from Canberra to Buenos Aires for the semi-final at Jose Amalfitani stadium, with the winner due to face the Canterbury Crusaders or Wellington Hurricanes next week.

The 25-year-old Powell made his Super Rugby debut in 2015 after being signed as a short-term replacement for the injured Nic White but then joined the squad full-time the next season.

Powell, however, spent much of 2016 warming the bench behind Tomas Cubelli, the Argentina scrumhalf who he is likely to face on Friday.

With five years of test experience behind him with the Pumas, Cubelli was more than willing to pass on tips to Powell during his two-year tenure in Canberra.

“He was the starting halfback in my first year of professional rugby, and he really helped me out and definitely it’ll be enjoyable to play against him this weekend,” Powell said in comments published by Rugby Australia’s website (rugby.com.au).

“His ability to back himself and his running game, that’s something he really taught me.

“Just to have a go, back yourself and see what you can do.”

Powell, capped four times for the Wallabies, stepped into the starting role in 2017 when Cubelli spent four months on the sidelines with a knee injury then returned to his native Argentina the following season.

Cubelli did not play in the match last season in Canberra, while Powell was a second-half substitute when the sides clashed earlier this term, the Jaguares clinching a 20-15 victory.

That week 11 loss for the Brumbies saw them slump to 12th on the table and in danger of missing out on the playoffs for the second successive year.

The Brumbies are undefeated since and their 38-13 victory over the Sharks 38-13 in Canberra last week was their seventh win in succession.

Powell said Dan McKellar’s side had shown in the second half of the season how tough they were to beat when the players were all on the same page.

“We had few tough times early in the year and learned a lot about how we play the game and react under pressure,” he said.

“I think that’s really led to how we’ve been going the second half, having experienced the lows, and now we’re playing good footy.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Ian Ransom)

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