Noah Lolesio will make his return from injury in the cut-throat environment of the Super Rugby AU final after he was named in the starting XV by Brumbies coach Dan McKellar for the decider against the Reds.
Lolesio hasn’t played since the Round 3 win over the Waratahs, when he sustained a severe hamstring injury, but has recovered in time to take the no.10 jersey in the must-win match.
Bayley Kuenzle, who has played flyhalf in Lolesio’s absence, has been moved to the bench, forcing Wallaby squad member Len Ikitau out of the matchday side entirely.
McKellar has made another change in the halves, bringing Joe Powell into the starting XV for Nic White. White will come from the bench with Ryan Lonergan to miss out.
For the Reds, Jordan Petaia has overcome the head knock which forced him from the field in last week’s qualifying final victory, but there’s no such good news on the injury front for Chris Feauai-Sautia, who will miss the decider. As a result, Petaia will start on the wing and Hunter Paisami will take the no.13 jersey.
That’s one of two changes made by Brad Thorn to his starting side. The other comes in the front row, where Harry Hoopert has been moved to the bench and replaced by JP Smith.
Ruan Smith comes into the reserves, and Jack Hardy has taken the vacant backs spot on the pine after Paisami’s promotion.
Saturday, 7:15pm (AEST), GIO Stadium
1. Scott Sio, 2. Folau Fainga’a, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Murray Douglas, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Lachie McCaffrey, 7. Will Miller, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Tom Wright, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Andy Muirhead, 15. Tom Banks
Bench: 16. Connal McInerney, 17. James Slipper, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Nick Frost, 20. Rob Valetini, 21. Nic White, 22. Bayley Kuenzle, 23. Solomone Kata
1. JP Smith, 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. Hunter Paisami, 14. Jordan Petaia, 15. Jock Campbell
Bench: 16. Josh Nasser, 17. Harry Hoopert, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20. Angus Scott-Young, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Bryce Hegarty, 23. Jack Hardy