Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has made a massive nine changes to his starting XV for Saturday night’s match against the Waratahs, and will also give Nic White his first Super Rugby AU game off the bench.
After being comprehensively outclassed by the Rebels in their last outing before the bye, McKellar has shaken his side up for the rivalry match against NSW. Scrumhalf Joe Powell, outside centre Tevita Kuridrani and lock Nick Frost are all out of the matchday squad, with Ryan Lonergan starting at no.9, Solomone Kata coming into the centres and Caderyn Neville returning from injury to start in the second row alongside Murray Douglas. Darcy Swain has been dropped back to the bench.
Captain Allan Alaalatoa is the only front-rower to keep his place in the run-on team, with James Slipper pushing Scott Sio to the bench and Folau Fainga’a another omission. Connal McInerny starts at hooker with Junior Wallaby Lachlan Lonergan named in the reserves.
There are also two changes to the back row, Will Miller and Lachie McAffrey starting on the flanks for Rob Valetini and Tom Cusack, both of whom will come off the pine. And Tom Wright, fresh off signing a one-year extension to keep him in Australian rugby and the capital, will return to the starting XV on the wing.
The biggest addition to the squad, though, is White. Having jostled with Will Genia to be the Wallabies’ starting scrumhalf last year, he’s the frontrunner for Dave Rennie’s no.9 jersey this year and, having returned to Australian rugby after his contract with Exeter finished, is set for his first game with the Brumbies since 2015.
The Waratahs, on the other hand, have opted for a far more stable side for Saturday night. Rob Penney has picked the same 23 which beat the Force last week, but has moved Harry Johnson-Holmes, Ned Hanigan and Joey Walton into the starting side in place of Te Tera Faulkner, Tom Staniforth and Lalakai Foketi respectively.
In the early Round 8 game, Western Force coach Tim Sampson has brought Andrew Ready into the starting side against his former club, and Heath Tessman will take Ready’s usual spot as reserve hooker. Ollie Atkins replaces Fergus Lee Warner in the second row, and Henry Taefu returns to the team on the bench.
The Reds will be without the injured Hunter Paisami but have not moved Jordan Petaia from the wing into his preferred position at outside centre, instead keeping the youngster out wide and handing regular winger Josh Flook the no.13 jersey.
The starting XV is otherwise unchanged, although Harry Hoopert will make his return from injury among the reserves. Moses Sorovi has replaced Scott Malolua as backup halfback and Jack Hardy is the reserve outside back.
Friday, 7:05pm (AEST), Cbus Super Stadium
1. Pek Cowan, 2. Andrew Ready, 3. Kieran Longbottom, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Ollie Atkins, 6. Fergus Lee-Warner, 7. Kane Koteka, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Ian Prior (c), 10. Jono Lance, 11. Brad Lacey, 12. Richard Kahui, 13. Kyle Godwin, 14. Byron Ralston, 15. Jake Strachan
Bench: 16. Heath Tessmann, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Tom Sheminant, 19. Johan Bardoul, 20. Ollie Callan, 21. Nick Frisby, 22. Jack McGregor, 23. Henry Taefu
1. Jack Straker, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Angus Blyth, 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6. Liam Wright (c), 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. James O’Connor, 11. Filipo Daugunu, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Josh Flook, 14. Jordan Petaia, 15. Jock Campbell
Bench: 16. Josh Nasser, 17. Harry Hoopert, 18. Zane Nonggorr, 19. Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20. Angus Scott-Young, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Bryce Hegarty, 23. Jack Hardy
Saturday, 7:15pm (AEST), GIO Stadium
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
Bench: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Darcy Swain, 20. Rob Valetini, 21. Tom Cusack, 22. Nic White, 23. Len Ikitau
1. Tom Robertson, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Ned Hanigan, 5. Rob Simmons (c), 6. Lachie Swinton, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Jack Dempsey, 9. Jake Gordon, 10. Will Harrison, 11. Alex Newsome, 12. Karmichael Hunt, 13. Joey Walton, 14. James Ramm, 15. Jack Maddocks
Bench: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Angus Bell, 18. Te Tera Faulkner, 19. Tom Staniforth, 20. Hugh Sinclair, 21. Mitch Short, 22. Ben Donaldson, 23. Lalakai Foketi