Brumbies get their leader back for blockbuster clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Brumbies will welcome back skipper Allan Alaalatoa for the blockbuster top-of-the-table clash against the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Alaalatoa has finished serving a three-week suspension and will line up at tighthead prop, allowing fellow Wallabies prop James Slipper to return to the other side of the scrum with Folau Fainga’a named at hooker.
Wallabies squad member Darcy Swain is the only other change to the starting side, he’ll partner workhorse Cadeyrn Neville in the second row.
A familiar back row sees Rob Valetini, Tom Cusack and Pete Samu as the loose forward trio.
Coach Dan McKellar has named an unchanged backline from the side that defeated the Waratahs last week with Nic White and Noah Lolesio named at scrumhalf and flyhalf respectively.
The midfield combination of Len Ikitau and Irae Simone have started every game so far in 2021 with a back three of fellow Wallabies squad members Tom Wright, Andy Muirhead and Tom Banks completing the run-on side.
Brumbies veteran Scott Sio returns to the matchday 23 after recovering from an elbow injury, with Sefo Kautai the replacement tighthead prop and Lachlan Lonergan the reserve hooker.
Nick Frost and James Tucker will be the remaining forward finishers.
Ryan Lonergan will provide the spark at scrumhalf, alongside playmaker Bayley Kuenzle and the versatile Mack Hansen as the replacement backs.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said: “Allan and Scotty are world-class props, it’s a good time to get them back, they’ve both trained really well for a couple of weeks.”
“Allan’s certainly keen to get back out there and lead the side through his actions, that’s what he’s all about.
“James [Tucker] played a lot of back row at ITM level in New Zealand, he’ll do a good job for us there.”
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Sefo Kautai, 19 Nick Frost, 20 James Tucker, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Mack Hansen.
Date: Saturday, April 10
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.45 (09.45 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Jordan Way
TMO: Brett Cronan