Lealiifano leads Brumbies against Chiefs
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has named a strong team to take on New Zealand outfit the Chiefs in the club’s final trial match at the Sunshine Coast Stadium in Kawana.
With thoughts turning towards the opening Super Rugby match of the season - the February 24 date with the Sunwolves in Tokyo - McKellar has named all of his big-hitters for the Chiefs showdown, with the exception of the injured David Pocock.
Flyhalf Christian Lealiifano will make his first start since his return from illness having been involved off the bench in the Quarter Final loss to the Hurricanes and the mid-season Austbrokers Cup match against the Asia Pacific Dragons in Singapore last year, and will also captain the side.
Lealiifano will line-up in a halfback partnership with Joe Powell with Wallaby pairing Kyle Godwin and Tevita Kuridrani named at centre and Queenslander Tom Banks at fullback. The pace out wide will be provided by Henry Speight and newcomer Chance Peni, both of whom crossed the try-line during the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens.
The pack has an equally formidable feel to it with a solid front-row of Scott Sio, Josh Mann-Rea and Allan Alaalatoa out to cause problems for their Kiwi opponents. Australian internationals Sam Carter and Rory Arnold anchor the scrum in the second row, an area of considerable strength for the Brumbies.
There’s a start for former-Force number eight Isi Naisarani, who impressed in the 50-19 victory over the Rebels a fortnight ago, in a back row that also includes the returning Lachlan McCaffrey and Rob Valetini, the trio promising to bring a physicality and ball-carrying menace to the occasion.
Thirteen players have been named on the bench and will all play a part at some stage during what is likely to be a high-intensive work-out ahead of the big kick-off.
The team have been training in the intense heat of their Caloundra base since Sunday having competed in the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens at Suncorp Stadium across the weekend.
Following that tournament, McKellar made several changes to the travelling party with the group joined by more of their contingent of thirteen Wallabies. The squad have been put through their paces at the Sunshine Coast Stadium and will be aiming to end the pre-season on a high before the serious business begins.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Chance Peni, 10 Christian Leallifano (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Lachlan McCaffrey, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-rea, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacement: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Leslie Leulua'Iali'I-makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Richie Arnold, 21 Tom Cusack, 22 Lolo Fakaosilea, 23 Matt Lucas, 23 Wharenui Hawera, 24 Lausii Taliauli, 25 Andrew Smith, 26 James Dargaville, 27 Andrew Muirhead.
Date: Wednesday, February 14
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Kawana
Kick-off: 19.00 (9.00 GMT, 22.00 NZ Time)