The Plus500 Brumbies will welcome back skipper Allan Alaalatoa for the blockbuster top-of-the-table clash against the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday night.
Alaalatoa has finished serving a three-week suspension and will line up at tighthead prop, allowing fellow Wallabies front rower James Slipper to return to the other side of the scrum with Folau Fainga’a named at hooker.
Wallabies squad member Darcy Swain is the only other change to the starting side; he’ll partner workhorse Cadeyrn Neville in the second row.
A familiar backrow sees Rob Valetini, Tom Cusack and Pete Samu as the loose forward trio.
Coach Dan McKellar has named an unchanged backline from the side that defeated the NSW Waratahs last week with Nic White and Noah Lolesio named at scrumhalf and flyhalf respectively.
The midfield combination of Len Ikitau and Irae Simone have started every game so far in 2021 with a back three of fellow Wallabies squad members Tom Wright, Andy Muirhead and Tom Banks completing the run on side.
Brumbies veteran Scott Sio returns to the game day 23 after recovering from an elbow injury, with Sefo Kautai the replacement tighthead prop and Lachlan Lonergan the reserve hooker.
Nick Frost and James Tucker will be the remaining forward finishers.
Ryan Lonergan will provide the spark at scrumhalf, alongside playmaker Bayley Kuenzle and the versatile Mack Hansen as the replacement backs.
Plus500 Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said: “Allan and Scotty are world class props, it’s a good time to get them back, they’ve both trained really well for a couple of weeks.”
“Allan’s certainly keen to get back out there and lead the side through his actions, that’s what he’s all about.
“James (Tucker) played a lot of backrow at ITM level in New Zealand, he’ll do a good job for us there.”
PLUS500 BRUMBIES ROUND EIGHT TEAM
1. James Slipper
2. Folau Fainga’a
3. Allan Alaalatoa (c)
4. Darcy Swain
5. Cadeyrn Neville
6. Rob Valetini
7. Tom Cusack
8. Pete Samu
9. Nic White
10. Noah Lolesio
11. Tom Wright
12. Irae Simone
13. Len Ikitau
14. Andy Muirhead
15. Tom Banks
16. Lachlan Lonergan
17. Scott Sio
18. Sefo Kautai
19. Nick Frost
20. James Tucker
21. Ryan Lonergan
22. Bayley Kuenzle
23. Mack Hansen
The Brumbies play the Queensland Reds in Round Eight of the Super Rugby AU at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday 10 April 7.45pm. Broadcast live on Stan Sport and 9Gem.