SYDNEY - Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua says Jake White's return to Canberra is impossible to ignore ahead of today's Super Rugby's top-of-the-table clash.
Seven months after walking out on the Brumbies midway through his four-year coaching contract, White is hoping to mastermind a Sharks victory that will propel the South Africans two wins clear of Toomua's second-placed Brumbies.
"It's the elephant in the room that he turned us around and now he's coaching another team that is the only other team ahead of us," Toomua said.
"So we've obviously spoken about it.
"But at the end of the day our focus is on the fact that we had a big loss (to the Crusaders) on the weekend and we need to have a big win this weekend."
White had a telling impact in his two years at the Brumbies, transforming the ACT outfit from mid-table mediocrity to runners-up in 2013.
Brumbies captain Stephen Moore says it's no coincidence the Sharks are now leading the competition under the coaching of South Africa's 2007 World Cup-winning mentor.
"He's a very good coach. His record shows that," Moore said.
"So we're expecting him to bring a really tough side. He knows a fair bit about us and we know a fair bit about them.
"But we play each regularly and I wouldn't say that will be a massive advantage.
"They'll play a forward-dominated game, they'll play for field position, they've got big forwards who get them over the gain-line and obviously (Frans) Steyn's boot will come into play there if our discipline drops away."
The Brumbies have been boosted by Toomua's decision on Wednesday to re-sign with the franchise — and the ARU — for three more seasons.
"Knowing the rugby program there and knowing the coaches, the players, the town, the city, that all helps," the 24-year-old said.
"I've been loving it there. I feel like my game is progressing and I hope to continue to progress and I think that's the best place for me for that to happen."