Brotherly love for the Brumbies
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Australian Capital Territories products Ryan and Lachlan Lonergan will become the first set of brothers from Canberra to start for the Brumbies when the team runs out to take on the Chiefs on Saturday.
The pair will play hooker and scrumhalf respectively at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, the venue for both of their Brumbies debuts, Ryan in 2017 and Lachlan in last year’s famous 26-14 win in Hamilton.
Younger brother Lachlan is the only change to the starting XV, wearing the No.2 jersey with Wallabies Scott Sio and skipper Allan Alaalatoa on either side of the front row.
Darcy Swain and the recently re-signed Nick Frost will get another chance to combine in the second row with Henry Stowers, Rory Scott and Rob Valetini the loose forward trio.
Ryan Lonergan will partner Noah Lolesio in the halves with Irae Simone and Len Ikitau the centre pairing.
After a strong return to Super Rugby last weekend, Solomone Kata will again start on the right wing with Tom Wright on the left and the in-form Tom Banks at fullback.
Connal McInerney has fully recovered from a fractured fibula and will return to the side via the bench for the first time since the start of March with fellow Canberrans Tom Ross and Harry Lloyd the replacement props.
After an impressive debut in Christchurch, Tom Hooper will again get more minutes as the reserve lock with Tom Cusack returning to the team after recovering from a leg injury for his 49th Brumbies appearance.
Issak Fines-Leleiwasa will bring his trademark energy as the replacement scrumhalf, while playmaker Bayley Kuenzle has fought his way back into the team with Mack Hansen rounding out the matchday 23.
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Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said: “It’s a great story to have the Lonergan brothers starting together for a Brumbies Super Rugby side in New Zealand.”
“They’re both great young men who come from a great family who grew up supporting the Brumbies and now they get a chance to pull on the jersey together at the place they made their debuts. It’s really special.
“The side has had a good week of preparation and we’re certainly excited by the challenge of coming to Hamilton to get a positive result on Saturday.”
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Henry Stowers 5 Nick Frost, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Tom Hooper, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Mack Hansen.
Date: Saturday, May 22
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.05 (17.05 AEST; 07.05 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Dan Waenga
TMO: Aaron Paterson