SUPER RUGBY AU, SIX ROUND
BRUMBIES vs FORCE, Friday 7:45 p.m. AEDT at GIO Stadium
The Brumbies will have another new captain for their clash with the Force, as half-back Nic White takes the lead in the absence of Tom Cusack.
Loose forward Cusack came out with an injured shoulder while first-choice skipper Allan Alaalatoa remains suspended – leaving White as a very capable third option.
The No.9 Wallabies has already been captain of the Brumbies twice and became the club’s youngest skipper in 2013 when he led them at 22.
Jahrome Brown swings back in place of Cusack as Wallabies’ prop James Slipper has been flipped to the side of the head.
“James is a senior player who takes pride in his details and wanted to know as soon as possible if he would play for the header,” said Brumbies coach Dan McKellar.
“He’s more than comfortable in this position and happy to do what’s best for the team.
“We are really looking forward to seeing Slips back on Friday night because it has been very good for us at the start of the year.”
Props Fred Kaihea and Sefo Kautai and backrower Rory Scott are also set to make their Brumbies debut off the bench.
Kaihea and Scott are local produce, while Kautai, a former Chef and New Zealand Under-20 representative, impressed immediately after being a mid-season rookie in Canberra.
“Sefo has been good since coming in, has done well in scrums and has a good experience at this level,” said McKellar.
“He hasn’t played since November but he’s been in very good shape.”
Meanwhile, the Force’s chances of registering an upheaval have been affected by injuries to veteran test backs Rob Kearney and Richard Kahui.
In their place are Jack McGregor and Marcel Brache at the back and left wing respectively, with coach Tim Sampson describing the changes as “an easy transition”.
Jono Lance is recalled on Matchday 23, while England Under-20 rookie Jordan Olowofela is set to make his first appearance for the Force.
“We have to play smart and not allow them to make easy entries into our defensive zone,” Sampson said.
“We have to frustrate the Brumbies and make them work hard.
“They like to get out of blocks quickly, so I expect a competition at a steady pace throughout.”
BRUMBIES (15-1): Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Mack Hansen, Noah Lolesio, Nic White (c), Pete Samu, Jahrome Brown, Rob Valetini, Caderyn Neville, Darcy Swain, James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a, Harry Lloyd
Reserves: Lachlan Lonergan, Fred Kaihea, Sefo Kautai, James Tucker, Rory Scott, Ryan Lonergan, Reesjan Pasitoa, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa
STRENGTH (15-1): Jack McGregor, Byron Ralston, Tevita Kuridrani, Henry Taefu, Marcel Brache, Jake McIntyre, Tomas Cubelli, Brynard Stander (c), Kane Koteka, Fergus Lee-Warner, Sitaleki Timani, Jeremy Thrush, Greg Holmes, Feleti Kaitu’u, Tom Robertson
Reserves: Jack Winchester, Angus Wagner, Santiago Medrano, Ryan McCauley, Tim Anstee, Ian Prior, Jono Lance, Jordan Olowofela