Brumbies beef up second-row for Bulls
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: With the likes of Springboks lock RG Snyman in the Bulls’ second-row, the Brumbies brought in their own tall timber for Friday’s clash at GIO Stadium.
Wallabies lock Rory Arnold returns to the team in the only change to the run-on side that defeated the Sunwolves 33-0 a fortnight ago, the Brumbies enjoying the bye week and emerging still top of the Australian Conference standings, with four matches left to play.
There’s also a welcome return for flank Rob Valetini, the young backrower back in action after missing the last seven matches through injury.
Valetini is included amongst the replacements, one of six forwards that McKellar has chosen in expectation of a tough, physical battle against the South Africans.
After the exciting attacking display against the Sunwolves, in which the Brumbies scored five tries including two sparkling tries touched down by Henry Speight and Tom Banks, it’s not surprising that the team remains settled with the duo selected in the back three alongside fellow speedster Toni Pulu.
Tevita Kuridrani, who had three try assists to his name against the Sunwolves, will line-up in midfield alongside Irae Simone, the midfield pairing creating a heap of space with some incisive running in their last outing.
Up front, Arnold will resume his locking partnership with the experienced Sam Carter ahead of a back-row of Jahrome Brown, Tom Cusack and Pete Samu, the trio picked to start a fourth successive match together and aiming to continue their impressive form of recent weeks.
The bench split sees opportunities for Ryan Lonergan and Tom Wright as the back-line cover with Valetini one of half-a-dozen potential forward changes available to McKellar and his coaching team.
Additional good news for the Brumbies is that Wallabies international prop Scott Sio has signed a new deal to extend his career the franchise for a further three-year commitment.
Sio’s re-commitment to the Brumbies long-term, following Allan Alaalatoa’s contract extension and playing together with James Slipper, provides the Brumbies with a solid and experienced scrum-base as a vital component for Super Rugby success.
“I am extremely happy to have signed a new contract with the club and Rugby Australia for the next three years and am excited about what lies ahead for me and the team,” the 27-year-old Sio said of his new deal.
“I have loved every minute of my time at the Brumbies and really enjoy the culture and the environment that we have at the club. It’s a unique family atmosphere that is recognised throughout the rugby World and I love being part of it.
“We have a wonderful fan-base who give us tremendous support and I enjoy playing in front of them in Canberra.
“The team is developing well, and we have a young and enthusiastic group that promises much for the future, and I am looking forward to playing my part in bringing success to the Brumbies.”
The qualities that Sio brings to the front-row are well-renowned, and especially appreciated by Brumbies Head Coach Dan McKellar.
“Scott has been at the Brumbies a long time now and he has grown into a really good leader,” McKellar said of Sio. “We are fortunate to have a quality world class loosehead prop in Scott.
“Scotty is a powerful footballer, very dynamic with the ball in hand and I still think that his best football is ahead of him.
“It’s important to have someone of that quality who can identify where the issues are coming at scrum time and how to fix them. We have always prided ourselves on our scrum and maul and Scott plays a big part in that.”
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Tom Cusack, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold , 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’A, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Connal Mcinerney, 17 James Slipper, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Murray Douglas, 21 Rob Valetini, 22 Ryan Lonergan, 23 Tom Wright
Date: Friday, May 24
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.45 (09.45 GMT, 11.45 South African time)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: James Leckie (Australia)