Brumbies bring in new faces
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Prop Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin and wing Lausii Taliauli will make their first Super Rugby starts of the season as the Brumbies welcome the Waratahs to GIO Stadium on Friday in Super Rugby Round 5.
The duo will take to the field as the two teams meet for the Dan Vickerman Cup, the trophy presented to the winner of the games between the pair during the campaign, with the Brumbies aiming for a repeat of their last home match when the Chiefs were put to the sword in stunning fashion.
There’s also an opportunity for two local Academy products to make their Brumbies debut, with the Gungahlin Eagles duo of Tom Ross and Mack Hansen named in the matchday twenty-three for the first time.
Leuluaialii-Makin slots into the front-row in place of the injured Allan Alaalatoa, having played all four games this season from the replacements bench, and will bring his indomitable scrummaging skills to a trio of forwards who have been in exceptional form.
Scott Sio is the other bookend, propping hooker Folau Fainga’a who crossed for his fourth try in successive matches against the Rebels, equalling a club record held by six other players, all backs. Rory Arnold and Sam Carter continue in the second row with Lachlan McCaffrey restored to the backrow alongside Tom Cusack and Rob Valetini.
Behind the pack, Joe Powell and Christian Lealiifano form the halfback partnership once more with Taliauli on the left wing forming an attacking trident alongside right wing Henry Speight and the hard-running fullback Tom Banks.
With Irae Simone, returning from a rib injury, and Tevita Kuridrani in the middle, the Brumbies will be looking to continue their try-scoring form.
With eighteen tries to their name already in 2019, the Australians are the second highest try-scorers in the Super Rugby competition behind the Crusaders and have been particularly effective up front with the trademark rolling maul accounting for seven of those scores.
There is no shortage of try-line hunters in the finishers as well with young Hansen having plundered six in two matches for the Brumbies Runners in 2019 and Jordan Jackson-Hope and Junior Wallabies Captain Ryan Lonergan regularly amongst the points at club level.
The Waratahs clash is always a highlight of the season for both clubs and, with both teams fielding a stack of talent, the stage is set for a huge encounter at GIO Stadium.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Lausii Taliauli, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valentini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-rea, 17 James Slipper, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Murray Douglas, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Jordan Jackson-hope, 23 Mack Hansen.
Date: Friday, March 15
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.45 (08.45 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper (Australia), Amy Perrett (Australia)
TMO: James Leckie (Australia)