The Brumbies and Reds have both named their line-ups for this weekend’s Super Rugby AU final.
The Canberrans have paid a heavy injury price for making it to the final, with forwards Pete Samu and James Slipper both ruled out of the decider for the Brumbies due to injuries sustained last week against the Force.
Both Slipper and Samu, who scored a double when the Reds and Brumbies met for the first time this season, have been sidelined with knee issues.
Scott Sio is a straight replacement for Slipper in the front row, while Samu’s absence has sparked a back-row reshuffle. Rob Valetini moves to number eight and Nick Frost, who has played most of his rugby for the Brumbies in the second row, starts at blindside flanker. Harry Lloyd and Henry Stowers have been added to the reserves.
Folau Fainga’a was also under an injury cloud for the Ponies but has been given the green light for Saturday night, albeit limited to a spot on the bench. Lachlan Lonergan starts at hooker.
The big news for the Reds centres around club captain Liam Wright, who has been named on the bench for the decider. Wright started for the first time this season in the Round 10 loss to the Force, but his captaincy drew sharp criticism after he decided against kicking for goal from straight in front late on while trailing by three. James O’Connor, who captained the Reds in their seven other matches (all of them wins), has been named skipper for the final.
Much like the Brumbies, the Reds aren’t exactly a picture of perfect healthz, losing influential centre Hunter Paisami to a facial fracture. The hosts announced last week that Paisami would miss up to a month of rugby, and they are also still without Suliasi Vunivalu, who picked up a hamstring strain in late March.
However, they have received a boost in the form of Jock Campbell, who returns to the side on the wing, pushing Filipo Daugunu to the bench.
Josh Flook comes into the starting midfield for Paisami, and not for the first time this year. The youngster was a late inclusion in the XV after Paisami was a gameday withdrawal the last time these sides met, and ended up scoring a critical late try as the Reds claimed an excellent win.
The other changes for Queensland are amongst the reserves: prop Dane Zander replaces Richie Asiata, and young playmaker Isaac Henry could make his Super Rugby debut from the pine in the final. Ilaisa Droasese has been left out.
Saturday, 7:45pm (AEST), Suncorp Stadium
(1-15): Feao Fotuaika, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Ryan Smith, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Scott-Young, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, James O’Connor (c), Jock Campbell, Hamish Stewart, Josh Flook, Jordan Petaia, Bryce Hegarty
Reserves: Alex Mafi, Dane Zander, Zane Nonggorr, Seru Uru, Liam Wright, Kalani Thomas, Isaac Henry, Filipo Daugunu
In: Jock Campbell, Dane Zander, Isaac Henry
Out: Hunter Paisami, Richie Asiata, Ilaisa Droasese
(1-15): Scott Sio, Lachlan Lonergan, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Darcy Swain, Cadeyrn Neville, Nick Frost, Rory Scott, Rob Valetini, Nic White, Noah Lolesio, Tom Wright, Irae Simone, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Banks
Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Harry Lloyd, Tom Ross, Henry Stowers, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Reesjan Pasitoa, Mack Hansen
In: Henry Stowers, Harry Lloyd
Out: Pete Samu, James Slipper