Brumbies bring back big guns
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has recalled James Slipper, Joe Powell and Andy Muirhead to the starting side for Sunday’s clash with fierce rivals the NSW Waratahs at GIO Stadium.
Fresh off signing a new two-year extension at the club, Slipper returns at loosehead prop alongside Connal McInerney and skipper Allan Alaalatoa in the front row.
Murray Douglas and Cadeyrn Neville have formed a strong partnership in the second row and will get another chance to combine on Sunday.
McKellar has named an unchanged backrow for the fourth consecutive week with Rob Valetini and Will Miller the flankers and Pete Samu at no.8.
Scrumhalf Joe Powell returns to the number nine jersey alongside flyhalf Noah Lolesio, with Tevita Kuridrani and Irae Simone set to hold down the midfield.
Andy Muirhead returns to the starting XV for the first time since the Chiefs win, with Solomone Kata on the opposite wing.
Tom Banks will again line-up at fullback in what will be his 50th appearance for the club.
The front row replacements are a trio of local products in Lachlan Lonergan, Harry Lloyd and Tom Ross, while tall timber Darcy Swain and workhorse Tom Cusack will provide the extra forward spark.
Ryan Lonergan is the reserve scrumhalf after a stellar run on debut in Wollongong last weekend with young playmaker Bayley Kuenzle returning to the matchday 23 after captaining the Runners last week and livewire Tom Wright providing plenty of cover from the pine.
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Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said: “The side can’t wait for the match on Sunday, this game means a lot to this club and our supporters and everyone’s chomping at the bit.”
“We know the Waratahs are going to be more than up for it, past form goes out the window in these games and they always grow a leg when they come down the Hume.
“Our supporters really get behind us for this match and we know there’s going to be a big crowd out there at GIO for some high-quality Sunday footy.”
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Will Miller, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Murray Douglas, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Connal McInerney, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Tom Wright.
Date: Sunday, March 15
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 16.05 (06.00 GMT)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (Australia)
TMO: James Leckie (Australia)