Brumbies bring in Wallabies for Blues
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Captain Allan Alaalatoa will become just the 14th player to represent the Brumbies in 100 Super Rugby matches when he leads the side against the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday.
Since making his debut for the club back in 2014, the 27-year-old has been a mainstay at tighthead prop, going on to achieve higher honours, representing the Wallabies on 43 times.
His milestone comes in the same fixture as vice-captain Tom Cusack who plays his 50th Brumbies game, named to start at openside flank.
Starting alongside Alaalatoa in the front row will be Connal McInerney who returns to the run-on hooker role for the first time since March 6, with Scott Sio named at loosehead prop.
The young lock combination of Darcy Swain and Nick Frost have been named for the third consecutive week with Rob Valetini and Henry Stowers swapping positions in the backrow.
Wallabies number nine Nic White returns from a hip flexor complaint to partner Noah Lolesio in the halves with the settled centre duo of Irae Simone and Len Ikitau in the midfield.
An unchanged back three sees Solomone Kata get the opportunity to start in the city he was educated in with the elusive Tom Wright on the opposite wing and the in-form Tom Banks at fullback.
Wallabies rake Folau Fainga’a returns to the game day squad as replacement hooker, with Harry Lloyd and the recalled Sefo Kautai the reserve props.
Bathurst-born Tom Hooper will get more minutes off the bench and is alongside fellow forward cover Luke Reimer, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Thursday.
Brumbies junior Ryan Lonergan is the reserve scrumhalf with playmaker Bayley Kuenzle and the versatile Mack Hansen finalising the match day 23.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said: “It’s a massive achievement for Allan to have reached 100 Super Rugby matches for the Brumbies.”
“He’s someone who embodies what it means to be a Brumby and is an exceptional leader of this group, who I have no doubt will be extra motivated to make sure he gets the result he deserves on Saturday night.
“It’s also a great milestone for Tom Cusack making his 50th Brumbies appearance, another one of our leaders, who grew up supporting the club and gives his all for the jersey every time he pulls it on.
“The group has had a really strong week of prep here in Auckland and we want make sure we finish this three week tour off in a positive fashion.”
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Henry Stowers, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Nick Frost, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Connal McInerney, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Sefo Kautai, 19 Tom Hooper, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Mack Hansen
Date: Saturday, May 29
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.15 (17.15 AEST; 09.15 GMT)
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe & Lauren Jenner
TMO: Glenn Newman