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The Roar


Super Rugby teams round 7: Bell returns but Tahs hooker gone for season, Jack back for Brums, Rebels' Leota blow

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3rd April, 2024
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There are only four games to kick off week seven in Super Rugby Pacific as the byes kick in. They’re highlighted for Australian fans for the clash between the third-placed Brumbies and 10th-placed Waratahs on Saturday night in Canberra.

The top team – the Hurricanes (27) -have the weekend off so the Brumbies and Blues can go joint top on 27 points with bonus point victories.

See all the team news as it breaks below.

(All times in AEDT)


Blues vs Force, 5.05pm

Western Force coach Simon Cron has tweaked his side for Friday night’s clash against the Blues at Eden Park.

Cron’s made two changes to his run-on side, with Sam Carter injected into the starting side to partner Tom Franklin. Lopeti Faifua will come off the bench.


The other change is at fullback, with Harry Potter ruled out with an ankle injury.

In his place comes Max Burey, while Junior Wallabies midfielder Henry O’Donnell is in line for his debut off the bench.

The final change is off the bench, with Marley Pearce returning after copping a lengthy ban for his high shot on Jordie Barrett at the start of the year.

Dalton Papali’i will lead the Blues this week in the absence of Patrick Tuipulotu, forming a formidable loose trio with Akira Ioane and Hoskins Sotutu. 

A new nine-ten combination sees Taufa Funaki start at halfback, with Harry Plummer at No.10, while Lucas Cashmore, nephew of former Blues fullback, Adrian Cashmore is a potential debutant off the bench.

Corey Evans joins Rieko Ioane in the midfield while AJ Lam starts on the right wing. Cole Forbes gets his first start in the Blues jersey after some impressive performances off the bench.


Blues Head Coach, Vern Cotter said while there’s been some forced changes this week, the team is in a settled frame of mind.

“With a short turnaround we’re lucky to have Dalton step in and lead the side, it’s a seamless transition given he captained at the start of the season and is a familiar voice in the leadership group.”

BLUES (1-15): Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Ricky Riccitelli, Angus Ta’avao, Josh Beehre, Laghlan McWhannell, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papali’i (c), Hoskins Sotutu, Taufa Funaki, Harry Plummer, Caleb Clarke, Corey Evans, Rieko Ioane, AJ Lam, Cole Forbes

RESERVES: Soane Vikena, Joshua Fusitu’a, Marcel Renata, Anton Segner, Adrian Choat, Sam Nock, Lucas Cashmore, Caleb Tangitau

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

RESERVES: Ben Funnell, Marley Pearce, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Lopeti Faifua, Will Harris, Ollie Callan, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Henry O’Donnell


Referee: Paul Williams

Assistant Referees: Marcus Playle, Mike Winter.

Rebels vs Drua, 7.35pm

The Rebels will be without Rob Leota for Friday’s important clash against the Drua in Melbourne.

The loss of the Rebels skipper (calf) comes after starring in his 50th match, as the embattled franchise beat the Waratahs in Sydney last week. Experienced front-rower Sam Talakai takes over the captaincy.

Rob Leota. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

His absence sees Maciu Nabolakasi come in at openside flanker, where he forms a new look back-row alongside Angelo Smith and Tuaina Taii Tualima.


Josh Canham also comes in to partner Lukhan Salakaia-Loto in the second-row.

While the halves remain the same, injuries to Lachie Anderson (concussion) and Jake Strachan (shoulder) have seen Glen Vaihu return to the left-wing and Nick Jooste promoted at fullback.

It’s not all bad news though, with All Blacks back Matt Proctor returning via the bench. He’s been joined by Mason Gordon, the younger brother of Carter, in the squad.

Drua coach Mick Byrne has made a few changes to his matchday 23 as the team seeks their first away win of the season. Hooker Tevita Ikanivere has been cleared to play and named in the run-on team.

Vilive Miramira returns to the starting line-up at blindside flanker, replacing the injured Etonia Waqa, while Kitione Salawa starts at openside flanker again this week. Captain Meli Derenalagi is back in the matchday squad and starts at No. 8.

REBELS (1-15): Matt Gibbon, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai (c), Josh Canham, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angelo Smith, Maciu Nabolakasi, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Glen Vaihu, David Feliuai, Filipo Daugunu, Darby Lancaster, Nick Jooste


RESERVES: Alex Mafi, Isaac Kailea, Taniela Tupou, Daniel Maiava, Vaiolini Ekuasi, James Tuttle, Matt Proctor, Mason Gordon

DRUA (1-15): Haereiti Hetet, Tevita Ikanivere, Mesake Doge, Mesake Vocevoce, Leone Rotuisolia, Vilive Miramira, Kitione Salawa, Meli Derenalagi (c), Frank Lomani, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Epeli Momo, Apisalome Vota, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese

RESERVES: Zuriel Togiatama, Livai Natave, Jone Koroiduadua, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Elia Canakaivata, Simione Kuruvoli, Waqa Nalaga, Taniela Rakuro

Referee: Damon Murphy

Assistant Referees: Graham Cooper, Jeremy Markey.


Chiefs vs Moana Pasifika, 5.05pm


Moana Pasifika coach Tana Umaga has made several changes to face the Chiefs including a debut for 15-Test Tongan international, Otumaka Mausia.

The utility back has made appearances for Auckland in NPC and also played for the Western Sydney Two Blues in the Australian domestic competition.

Sekope Kepu is named as captainand links up with Donald Brighouse in the front row.

Ola Tauelangi, Irie Papuni, Semisi Paea and Melani Matavao all get their first starts. Meanwhile Niko Jones returns to the squad for the first time this year at flanker.

In the backline William Havili gets the nod to start at fly half. Viliami Fine is back on the left wing and Fine Inisi moves into centre. Meanwhile Kyren Taumoefolau earns a start at fullback. 

Two Chiefs will celebrate their 50th game milestones – winger Etene Nanai-Seturo and prop Ollie Norris.

Auckland prop Sione Ahio makes his debut off the bench, with Wallace Sititi and Peniasi Malimali getting their season debuts in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Rameka Poihipi, who scored a try just eight seconds after kickoff when the teams last met, will take over the captaincy.


CHIEFS (1-15): Ollie Norris, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Reuben O’Neill, Jimmy Tupou, Tupou Vaa’i, Samipeni Finau, Simon Parker, Wallace Sititi, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Peniasi Malimali, Rameka Poihipi (c), Daniel Rona, Emoni Narawa, Etene Nanai Seturo

RESERVES: Bradley Slater, Jared Proffit, Sione Ahio, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Kaylum Boshier, Cortez Ratima, Josh Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown

PASIFIKA (1-15): Donald Brighouse, Sama Malolo, Sekope Kepu (c), Tom Savage, Ola Tauelangi, Irie Papuni, Niko Jones, Semisi Paea, Melani Matavao, William Havili, Viliami Fine, Julian Savea, Fine Inisi, Nigel Ah Wong, Kyren Taumoefolau

RESERVES: Samiuela Moli, Abraham Pole, Suetena Asomua, Michael Curry, Miracle Faiilagi, Aisea Halo, Otumaka Mausia, D’Angelo Leuila

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe

Assistant Referees: Stu Curran, Jackson Henshaw.


Brumbies vs Waratahs, 7.35pm

The Brumbies have made several changes to their side for Saturday’s clash against the Waratahs for the Dan Vickerman Cup, while the Waratahs have been bolstered by the return of Angus Bell.

Following the season-ending injury to Lachie Lonergan, Billy Pollard has been promoted to the starting side. That allows Wallaby capped hooker Connal McInerney to return via the bench.

Pollard is joined in the front-row once again by Sosefo Kautai and James Slipper, who will become Australia’s most capped Super Rugby player.

Nick Frost returns to the starting side to partner Darcy Swain, which sees Cadeyrn Neville drop back to the bench. Tom Hooper replaces Jahrome Brown at openside flanker.

The backline is unchanged, but there’s a notable return on the bench with Jack Debreczeni returning for the first time after suffering a foot injury in pre-season.

The Brumbies will face a hurt Waratahs side, who are out to get back on the winner’s list after a difficult month.


Coach Darren Coleman welcomes back Bell at loose-head prop after the Wallabies star withdrew from last week’s loss to the Rebels with a back injury.

Angus Bell of the Waratahs passes the ball to team mate Langi Gleeson. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

He’s joined by hooker Julian Heaven and Harry Johnson-Holmes in a new-look front-row. Heaven comes into the starting side after Mahe Vailanu sustained a knee-injury against the Rebels, which will see the rising hooker miss the rest of the season. Theo Fourie returns to the bench.

Langi Gleeson’s concussion sees Hugh Sinclair shift from openside flanker to No.8, which allows Charlie Gamble to return to the No.7 jersey after missing last week because of a calf complaint.

“Mahe is a big loss for us but it’s a good opportunity for Julian,” forwards coach Pauli Taumoepeau said.

“He started against the Blues and did really well. We just want him to do his job; solidify our set-piece, carry hard and tackle hard.

“It’s a good opportunity for him and as coaches we’re just looking for him to bring what naturally comes to his game.”


The other major change is in the midfield, with Lalakai Foketi injected back into the starting side.

That sees Joey Walton shift to outside centre, while Izaia Perese moves to the bench.

“Lalakai brings a great power game for us, he links up well with Tane, and he gets the ball to width deceptively well which helps us get our back three more involved,” Taumoepeau said.

Jack Grant’s concussion also sees Teddy Wilson return to the bench after limited minutes.

Bordeaux-bound flanker Lachie Swinton meanwhile plays his 50th match and the Waratahs are hoping the milestone gives the 10th place side the lift they need to get over the Brumbies.

“Swinno has always been that spiritual leader for us,” Taumoepeau said. He doesn’t say much but when he does say something everyone listens. He does most of his talking on the field through his carries and through his defence.

“Against the Brumbies, we’ll need all hands on deck, and if Swinno is leading the charge, he’ll be pretty easy to follow.


“They’re a class side. They’ve been the best maulers in the competition for a very long time. We’ve got to be really disciplined and play them at the right ends of the field.

“I think the battle will be won and lost up front. We’re looking forward to this challenge.”

BRUMBIES (1-15): James Slipper, Billy Pollard, Sefo Kautai, Darcy Swain, Nick Frost, Rob Valetini, Tom Hooper, Charlie Cale, Ryan Lonergan (c), Noah Lolesio, Corey Toole, Tamati Tua, Hudson Creighton, Ollie Sapsford, Tom Wright

RESERVES: Connal McInerney, Fred Kaihea, Rhys Van Nek, Cadeyrn Neville, Luke Reimer, Harrison Goddard, Jack Debreczeni, Declan Meredith

WARATAHS (1-15): Angus Bell, Julian Heaven, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jed Holloway, Fergus Lee-Warner, Lachlan Swinton, Hugh Sinclair, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon (c), Tane Edmed, Dylan Pietsch, Lalakai Foketi, Joey Walton, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Max Jorgensen

RESERVES: Theo Fourie, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Tom Ross, Miles Amatosero, Sione Misiloi, Teddy Wilson, Will Harrison, Izaia Perese

Referee: Nic Berry


Assistant Referees: Jordan Way, Matt Kellahan