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Super Rugby teams week six: Foketi back after horror injury, Suli benched, Sam Carter set for debut, DMac rested

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27th March, 2024
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Queensland Reds have dropped Wallaby winger Suliasi Vunivalu after some underwhelming performances with Test teammate Jordan Petaia moved to the wing for the Reds. Elsewhere, the Chiefs have decided to rest star No.10 Damian McKenzie against the 0-5 Crusaders.

Check out all the team news as it drops below.

(All times are AEDT)

Friday

Crusaders vs Chiefs, 5.05pm

Crusaders coach Rob Penney has made five changes, including the replacement of injured inside centre David Havili, with Dallas McLeod. Veteran halfback Mitchell Drummond takes over the captaincy.

Lock Quinten Strange returns after a neck strain. All Blacks loosehead prop Joe Moody has missed out on the 23.

 Josh Jacomb has been chosen at No.10 to replace McKenzie, who is having the first of two All Blacks rest weeks.

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Samipeni Finau also sits out with Naitoa Ah Kuoi coming into the No. 6 jersey.

Chiefs lock Tupou Vaa’i misses out with concussion but Anton Lienert-Brown returns after missing last week.

CRUSADERS (1-15): George Bower, George Bell, Fletcher Newell, Quinten Strange, Jamie Hannah, Corey Kellow, Tom Christie, Cullen Grace, Mitch Drummond, Riley Hohepa, Johnny McNicholl, Dallas McLeod, Levi Aumua, Sevu Reece, Chay Fihaki

RESERVES: James Mullen, Kershawl Sykes-Martin, Owen Franks, Dominic Gardiner, Fletcher Anderson, Noah Hotham, Rivez Reihana, Macca Springer

CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei’aho, George Dyer, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Josh Lord, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Kaylum Boshier, Luke Jacobson (c), Xavier Roe, Josh Jacomb, Etene Nanai Seturo, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert-Brown, Emoni Narawa, Shaun Stevenson

RESERVES: Bradley Slater, Jared Proffit, Reuben O’Neill, Jimmy Tupou, Simon Parker, Cortez Ratima, Josh Ioane, Daniel Rona

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Referee: Angus Gardner

Assistant Referees: Dan Waenga, Mike Winter.

Waratahs vs Rebels, 7.35pm

The NSW Waratahs have been given a boost ahead of Friday night’s local derby against the Melbourne Rebels, with Will Harrison and Lalakai Foketi to make welcomed returns.

Utility back Harrison, 24, will come off the bench for his first match in 707 days after several devastating knee-injuries.

He will also be joined by Wallaby Foketi, who was injured at training in the days leading up to the Waratahs’ season opener against the Reds in Brisbane.

Waratahs assistant coach Chris Whitaker said the side had celebrated their returns after career-threatening injuries.

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“It’s great news,” Whitaker said. “They both received a big cheer in the team meeting when the team was announced.

“They’ve both obviously had different injury setbacks but they’ve both shown a lot of mental fortitude and strength of character to come back from their injuries.

“They boys saw Lalakai taken away in an ambulance which was quite frightening for them so they’re happy to see him back. He gives us a lot of experience in that backline and the boys love to play with him.

Lalakai Foketi returns for the Waratahs . (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

“It’s been a long battle for Will Harrison. It’s so good to see him back. The boys have seen him in here every day working on his injuries. He’s raring to go and he’s a little terrier who will give us plenty of energy.

“He’s done a lot of hard work to get back to where he is. He’s played some good games for us in our Waratahs A team and played 80 minutes for Randwick last week also.”

They aren’t the only changes to the side, with Tom Ross promoted to start in the front-row while Hugh Sinclair comes off the bench to start in the second-row alongside Jed Holloway, with Fergus-Lee Warner dropping out of the side.

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The other change is in the back-row, with Lachie Swinton promoted at blindside flanker. The change sees Ned Hanigan drop back to the bench.

The Rebels have made several changes themselves, with Josh Kemeny making a timely return at openside flanker.

After being smashed at the breakdown, Kemeny, who made his Wallabies debut last year, has come in for Vaiolini Ekuasi and will be tasked with slowing the Waratahs’ ball down.

He’s not the only big change, with Andrew Kellaway ruled out of the side after leaving the field midway through their loss to the Hurricanes. In his place comes Jake Strachan.

Filipo Daugunu makes a timely return at outside centre after missing the past two matches due to a club matter.

Darby Lancaster, the Australian sevens star, has also been named on the wing.

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WARATAHS (1-15): Angus Bell, Mahe Vailanu, Tom Ross, Jed Holloway, Hugh Sinclair, Lachlan Swinton, Charlie Gamble, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon (c), Tane Edmed, Dylan Pietsch, Joey Walton, Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Max Jorgensen

RESERVES: Julian Heaven, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Miles Amatosero, Ned Hanigan, Jack Grant, Will Harrison, Lalakai Foketi

REBELS (1-15): Matt Gibbon, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai, Angelo Smith, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Josh Kemeny, Rob Leota (c), Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Darby Lancaster, David Feliuai, Filipo Daugunu, Lachie Anderson, Jake Strachan

RESERVES: Alex Mafi, Cabous Eloff, Taniela Tupou, Josh Canham, Maciu Nabolakasi, Vaiolini Ekuasi, James Tuttle, Nick Jooste

Referee: Angus Mabey

Assistant Referees: Marcus Playle, Nick Hogan

Saturday

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Fijian Drua vs Force, 12.05pm

Simon Cron hasn’t wasted any time in calling up Sam Carter, with the experienced Wallaby to come off the bench for the Western Force against the Drua in Fiji on Saturday.

Carter was unveiled earlier in the week as the Force’s new recruit, with injury once again striking in the second-row.

Already missing a couple of locks, including experienced Wallaby Izack Rodda, the Force lost first-year skipper Jeremy Williams to a calf injury last week. The injury is expected to see the lock miss up to three weeks.

As such, Cron has named Lopeti Faifua alongside Tom Franklin in the second-row, with Carter to come off the bench.

The other change is in the forward pack, with New Zealander Reed Prinsep coming in for the concussed Will Harris.

Drua coach Mick Byrne has made several changes including a potential debut from rookie Waqa Nalaga.

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There is a first start in 2024 for No.7 Kitione Salawa while Elia Canakaivata returns to the squad at No.8.

DRUA (1-15): Haereiti Hetet, Tevita Ikanivere, Mesake Doge, Mesake Vocevoce, Leone Rotuisolia, Etonia Waqa, Kitione Salawa, Elia Canakaivata, Frank Lomani, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Epeli Momo, Apisalome Vota, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese

RESERVES: Zuriel Togiatama, Livai Natave, Samuela Tawake, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Motikiai Murray, Simione Kuruvoli, Waqa Nalaga, Taniela Rakuro

FORCE (1-15): Ryan Coxon, Tom Horton, Santiago Medrano, Thomas Franklin, Lopeti Faifua, Tim Anstee, Carlo Tizzano, Reed Prinsep, Nic White (c), Ben Donaldson, Chase Tiatia, Hamish Stewart, Sam Spink, Bayley Kuenzle, Harry Potter

RESERVES: Ben Funnell, Josh Bartlett, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Sam Carter, Ollie Callan, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Max Burey, George Poolman

Referee: Reuben Keane

Assistant Referees: Matt Kellahan, Tex Rokovereni.

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Moana Pasifika vs Blues, 2.35pm

Moana Pasifika coach Tana Umaga has made several changes. Sama Malolo has been named at hooker and Tom Savage returning as lock.

Fine Inisi starts on the left wing while Julian Savea returns to the centres. Donald Brighouse and Ola Tauelangi have gone to the bench.

Blues hooker, Ricky Riccitelli will play his 100th Super Rugby match from the bench while Finlay Christie is down to start at scrumhalf his 50th Blues match.

Rieko Ioane returns to the midfield, partnering Bryce Heem. Corey Evans starts at fullback replacing injured Zarn Sullivan.

Loose forward Akira Ioane and halfback Sam Nock are on the bench.

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“This will be a stern test on Saturday afternoon,” said coach Vern Cotter.

“We’ve seen how well Moana are playing this year, they are well coached and pose dangerous attacking threats across the park, we’ll need a big defensive effort to contain them.

“Last season this fixture came down to the final seconds – it was a cliff hanger. We expect Moana to bring plenty of passion to the occasion; even though we’re playing at Eden Park, this is a home game for them.”

PASIFIKA (1-15): Abraham Pole, Samiuela Moli, Sione Mafileo, Tom Savage, Allan Craig, Jacob Norris, Sione Havili Talitui (c), Lotu Inisi, Ereatara Enari, Christian Lealiifano, Fine Inisi, Julian Savea, Pepesana Patafilo, Nigel Ah Wong, Danny Toala

RESERVES: Samiuela Moli, Donald Brighouse, Sekope Kepu, Ola Tauelangi, Semisi Paea, Melani Matavao, William Havili, Kyren Taumoefolau

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BLUES (1-15): Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Soane Vikena, Marcel Renata, Patrick Tuipulotu (c), Laghlan McWhannell, Anton Segner, Adrian Choat, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Stephen Perofeta, Caleb Clarke, Bryce Heem, Rieko Ioane, Mark Tele’a, Corey Evans

RESERVES: Ricky Riccitelli, Joshua Fusitu’a, Angus Ta’avao, Josh Beehre, Akira Ioane, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, Cole Forbes

Referee: James Doleman

Assistant Referees: Jono Bredin, Fraser Hannon

Highlanders vs Hurricanes, 5.05pm

The Highlanders will start winger Jonah Lowe at outside centre to cover for Tanielu Tele’a, who received a three-week suspension for his red card against the Chiefs.

Prop Jermaine Ainsley misses out with a back injury with prop Rohan Wingham in line for a debut from bench.

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Josh Timu returns to the match-day 23 after a year out of the sport.

The Hurricanes are back at full strength after smashing the Rebels last weekend.

Prop Tyrel Lomax, lock Caleb Delany, loose forward Brad Shields and centre Jordie Barrett are the only ones to retain their starting spots.

All Blacks halfback Cam Roigard reclaims the No.9 jersey from TJ Perenara.

Winger Salesi Rayasi misses out despite scoring two tries against Melbourne.

HIGHLANDERS (1-15): Ethan de Groot, Henry Bell, Saula Ma’u, Fabian Holland, Max Hicks, Sean Withy, Billy Harmon (c) Tom Sanders, Folau Fakatava, Rhys Patchell, Jona Nareki, Sam Gilbert, Jonah Lowe, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

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RESERVES: Jack Taylor, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Rohan Wingham, Oliver Haig, Nikora Broughton, James Arscott, Ajay Faleafaga, Josh Timu

HURRICANES (1-15): Xavier Numia, Asafo Aumua, Tyrel Lomax, Caleb Delany, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Brad Shields, Peter Lakai, Brayden Iose, Cam Roigard, Brett Cameron, Kini Naholo, Jordie Barrett, Billy Proctor, Josh Moorby, Ruben Love

RESERVES: James O’Reilly, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Pasilio Tosi, Justin Sangster, Du’Plessis Kirifi, TJ Perenara, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Ngane Punivai

Referee: Damon Murphy

Assistant Referees: Jordan Way, Jeremy Markey

Reds vs Brumbies, 7.35pm

Stephen Larkham has injected his most experienced Wallabies into his starting front-row, as the Brumbies attempt to make it consecutive defeats for Les Kiss’ Reds side.

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James Slipper, who will join another former Brumbies and Reds stalwart Stephen Moore as Australia’s most capped Super Rugby player in his 177th appearance, will start alongside fellow Wallaby Lachie Lonergan.

The tweak to the front-row sees local product Harry Vella, as well as young Wallaby Billy Pollard drop to the bench.

Larkham has also recalled Ryan Lonergan to the starting side, with the interim captain returning to the No.9 jersey after giving Harrison Goddard some important minutes.

Larkham has otherwise named a settled side, with plenty of bulk and experience to come off the bench including Nick Frost, Tom Hooper and breakdown specialist Luke Reimer.

The Reds, meanwhile, have tweaked their side following their shock loss to the Force last week, with Jeffery Toomaga-Allen starting ahead of Zane Nonggorr and Jordan Petaia in the No.14 jersey for Suliasi Vunivalu.
After falling down the pecking order at fly-half, Lawson Creighton also comes onto the bench at the expense of Harry McLaughlin-Phillips.

Jordan Petaia runs the ball for the Reds

Jordan Petaia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“Our scrum has been a great platform for us. Jeffery’s experience will be valuable in this area. Zane has done a fantastic job starting and the finisher role is an important one,” Kiss said.

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“Suli has played a lot of minutes this season. This is another rotation. We want to maintain our No.13 and No.15 in position and we know Jordie has regularly shown his quality on the wing.

“Lawson has been very impressive in training and in the games he has played for our Development XV and Brothers.

“We are very happy with the progress of Harry McLaughlin-Phillips coming into Super Rugby as a 19-year-old. He will no doubt feature again.”

REDS (1-15): Peni Ravai, Matt Faessler, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Seru Uru, Ryan Smith, Liam Wright (co-c), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott (co-c), Tom Lynagh, Mac Grealy, Hunter Paisami, Josh Flook, Jordan Petaia, Jock Campbell

RESERVES: Josh Nasser, George Blake, Zane Nonggorr, Cormac Daly, John Bryant, Kalani Thomas, Lawson Creighton, Suliasi Vunivalu

BRUMBIES (1-15): James Slipper, Lachlan Lonergan, Sefo Kautai, Darcy Swain, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Valetini, Jahrome Brown, Charlie Cale, Ryan Lonergan (c), Noah Lolesio, Corey Toole, Tamati Tua, Hudson Creighton, Ollie Sapsford, Tom Wright

RESERVES: Billy Pollard, Harry Vella, Rhys Van Nek, Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer, Harrison Goddard, Declan Meredith

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Referee: Ben O’Keeffe

Assistant Referees: Stu Curran, Jackson Henshaw.

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