The Plus500 Brumbies have made nine changes to their starting XV for their blockbuster clash against archrivals the NSW Waratahs at GIO Stadium Canberra this Saturday night, 22 August.
The changes come on the back of the Brumbies’ first defeat in the new Super Rugby AU tournament, going down to the Melbourne Rebels 30 – 12 at Leichardt Oval on 7 August.
Regulars in the Brumbies starting XV over recent seasons, Folau Faingaa, Tevita Kuridrani and Joe Powell have all been left out of the squad, but coach Dan McKellar insisted they weren’t left out due to poor form, rather to manage their workloads and try other combinations.
The absence of Powell will allow the 2018 Junior Wallabies halves Ryan Lonergan and Bayley Kuenzle to partner together for the first time in Brumbies colours.
James Slipper slots back into the starting side after missing the side’s last match against the Melbourne Rebels and is joined by pathway product Connal McInerney, who earns his first start at hooker of the new competition in place of Faingaa.
The second row sees Murray Douglas and Cadeyrn Neville combine for the first time in Super Rugby AU, with Neviller making his return to field after recovering from an ankle injury.
The backrow will also have a new look with vice-captain Lachlan McCaffrey at blindside flanker, Will Miller at openside and Pete Samu at number 8.
In the backline, Irae Simone will again wear the number 12 jersey and will be partnered by Solomone Kata, who gets his first chance in the centres after playing on the wing so far in 2020.
Tom Wright celebrates re-signing with the club earlier this week with a return to the starting side on the wing and will be joined by the Andy Muirhead and fullback Tom Banks in the back three.
Promising local youngster Lachlan Lonergan has forced his way back into the match day 23 as replacement hooker with Wallaby Scott Sio and another Canberra product, Tom Ross the finishing props.
For the first time in 2020, McKellar has gone with a 6/2 split on the bench with Darcy Swain, Rob Valetini and Tom Cusack providing the remaining cover in the forwards.
Wallabies halfback Nic White has been named on the bench and is in line for his first match in Brumbies colours since 2015 and his 68th overall for the club after re-joining the squad in July following five seasons in France and England.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said: “It’s really exciting to see some individuals who have worked hard and performed well get an opportunity this week.”
“We pride ourselves on our depth and having a whole squad mentality here at the Brumbies and we’re confident we’ve picked the best side to get the job done on Saturday night.
“The Waratahs appear to be full of confidence coming into this game and to say we’re excited for the challenge would be an understatement.”
PLUS500 BRUMBIES ROUND EIGHT TEAM
1. James Slipper
2. Connal McInerney
3. Allan Alaalatoa (c)
4. Murray Douglas
5. Cadeyrn Neville
6. Lachlan McCaffrey
7. Will Miller
8. Pete Samu
9. Ryan Lonergan
10. Bayley Kuenzle
11. Tom Wright
12. Irae Simone
13. Solomone Kata
14. Andy Muirhead
15. Tom Banks
16. Lachlan Lonergan
17. Scott Sio
18. Tom Ross
19. Darcy Swain
20. Rob Valetini
21. Tom Cusack
22. Nic White
23. Len Ikitau
For more sport: