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The Brumbies will look to find some form as quickly as possible in their only pre-season trial game as they welcome the Western Force to Canberra with Round 1 of Super Rugby AU drawing closer. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog from 6pm (AEDT).
It’s easy to assume pre-season games are all a bit bland and just another chance for a club to sell a few bits of merch. But in a year where both fans and clubs have had rugby ripped away from them, every single chance to get on the pitch is precious.
The Brumbies are certainly looking to get back into the swing of things and Dan McKellar has announced a starting line-up with seven Wallabies, including a powerful pack that contains Rob Valetini, Pete Samu, James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a and Allan Alaalatoa.
While the Ponies will likely look to this experienced pack to set a good foundation, it’s in the backs where we see some more interesting stories to keep an eye on in this game.
Nineteen-year-old Reesjan Pasitoa is starting in the flyhalf position and will be keen to show off some of the talents that have caught the eye previously.
He’ll be joined by the returning Rod Iona who last played for the Brumbies back in 2015 who will start at centre. The three-Test Samoan international has played overseas for a while and will be keen to make an impact straight away in Super Rugby AU. With his power running, the Force midfield will need to be ready for some hardcore tackle practice.
Unfortuantely, the Brumbies will be missing the talents of Tom Wright. He’ll be out for roughly six weeks after picking up bone bruising on his knee in training.
The Force come to Canberra knowing they need to learn from this encounter against the Brumbies. Round 1 of Super Rugby AU will see these two teams face each other again over in Western Australia, so now is a great time to figure out how to beat them.
There’s a nice mix of youth and experience in the Force with a couple of names grabbing attention. We all know what Tevita Kuridrani can do but what makes his presence a bit more spicey is that he’ll line up against Len Ikitau, who was selected instead of Kuridrani in the Wallabies squad last year.
Also keep an eye out for Jack McGregor who will be wanting to build on his positive 2020 performances. He’s one of those players who many earmarked for big things from his early days but has had to deal with some horror runs of injuries. He had a good year last year and can play almost anywhere across the backs if needs be.
The Force have also brought in plenty of overseas talent including Tomas Cubelli, Domingo Miotti, Santiago Medrano, Tomas Lezana and 95 international-cap Irish legend Rob Kearney. Hopefully this group bonds together and compliment each other.
Yes it’s pre-season and it doesn’t count, but it matters to the players and the clubs. With the quality in the pack, the Brumbies should control things pretty easily. Today though, do keep a lookout for the individual performances and how the combinations are clicking (or not) as they should impact selections for the early rounds of Super Rugby.
Brumbies by 15.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of what promises to be an interesting match starting from 6pm (AEDT).
Kick-off: 6pm (AEDT)
Venue – Viking Park, Canberra
Live stream: Brumbies’ Facebook page and brumbies.rugby
1. James Slipper, 2. Folau Fainga’a, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Jahrome Brown, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Nic White, 10. Reesjan Pasitoa, 11. Andy Muirhead, 12. Rod Iona, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Mack Hansen, 15. Tom Banks
Bench: Scott Sio, Harry Lloyd, Tom Ross, Connal McInerney, Lachlan Lonergan, Nick Frost, James Tucker, Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer, Rory Scott, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Ryan Lonergan, Junior Tupou, Reece Tapine, Noah Lolesio, Tom Haddad, Corey Toole
1. Angus Wagner, 2. Feleti Kaitu’u, 3. Kieran Longbottom, 4. Fergus Lee-Warner, 5. Tim Anstee, 6. Tomás Lezana, 7. Kane Koteka, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Ian Prior (c), 10. Jono Lance, 11. Brad Lacey, 12. Kyle Godwin, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Byron Ralston, 15. Jack McGregor
Bench: Jack Winchester, Scott Tolmie, Chris Heiberg, Santiago Medrano, Tom Robertson, Greg Holmes, Sam Offer, Jackson Pugh, Manu Kololo, Ollie Callan, Tomás Cubelli, Michael McDonald, Jake McIntyre, Domingo Miotti, Henry Taefu, Jake Strachan, Grason Makara, Toni Pulu, Marcel Brache, Rob Kearney, Richard Kahui