Brumbies change five for Rebels
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has made five changes to the starting XV for the side’s Round Nine Super Rugby AU fixture against the Melbourne Rebels on Sunday.
After impressing off the bench in all matches so far in 2021, ACT junior Ryan Lonergan has been named for his first start of the year at No.9 where he will partner Noah Lolesio in the halves.
Veteran loosehead prop Scott Sio will earn his 120th Brumbies cap at AAMI Park when he runs on in the front row alongside fellow Wallabies duo Folau Fainga’a and skipper Allan Alaalatoa.
A settled combination of Wallabies training camp members Darcy Swain and Cadeyrn Neville chosen in the second row.
An all-new back row combination sees James Tucker starting at blindside flank with Brumbies Academy graduate and Canberra local, Rory Scott earning his first Super Rugby start at No.7. Rob Valetini completes the trio, moving into the No.8 jersey.
After an impressive shift off the pine last week, Bayley Kuenzle will start at inside centre, with Len Ikitau his midfield partner in the No.13 jersey.
McKellar has named an unchanged back three for the third straight week with Andy Muirhead and Tom Wright on the edges and Tom Banks at fullback.
Fresh from his first experience at a senior national camp, Lachlan Lonergan will again be the reserve hooker with Tom Ross returning from a knee injury via the bench alongside 100-Test Wallaby James Slipper who is rotated to the finishers.
Tall-timber Nick Frost is in line for his sixth Super Rugby match of the season with the unlikely return of Will Miller almost complete after he was named as the loose forward replacement.
Wallabies incumbent Nic White will provide energy as replacement scrumhalf with teenager Reesjan Pasitoa and the versatile Mack Hansen rounding out the game day squad.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said: “Ryan Lonergan gets a crack there at starting scrumhalf with Scotty rotating in and freshen both Whitey and Slips up.”
“BK was very good in pre-season and unfortunately picked up an injury just before Round One. He can certainly do a really good job at 10 like he did for us last season but 12 is his preferred position, so really pleased to see him a get a chance there this weekend.
“We’re going down there to win and make sure we’re creating momentum but it’s a chance to rotate a couple of players like we would any week and an opportunity.
“We know Melbourne will be hard on the ball, they’ve got a world-class wing and a good ten and captain who will direct them around the park.”
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Rory Scott, 6 James Tucker, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 James Slipper, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Will Miller, 21 Nic White, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Mack Hansen.
Date: Sunday, April 18
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 14.00 (04.00 GMT)
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant referees: Jordan Way, Reuben Keane
TMO: Brett Cronan