Brumbies mix if up for Final
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has made four changes to the starting XV for Saturday’s Super Rugby AU Final against the Queensland Reds.
The most capped member of the squad, Scott Sio replaces the injured James Slipper at loosehead prop – with Canberra product Lachlan Lonergan earning his first start for the franchise at hooker.
Skipper Allan Alaalatoa completes the front row at tighthead prop.
A familiar second row sees Cadeyrn Neville and Darcy Swain named as the two locks – with Nick Frost set to start at No.6, alongside Brumbies Academy graduate Rory Scott and the recently re-signed Rob Valetini in the back row.
An unchanged backline will line-up in Brisbane, with vice-captain Nic White and playmaker Noah Lolesio starting as the halfback pairing.
Outside them will be the reliable Irae Simone and the dynamic Len Ikitau who have started all but one match together in the midfield this season.
The back three again consists of plenty of pace and finishing ability, Tom Wright and Andy Muirhead staring on the wings, with Wallabies fullback Tom Banks wearing the No.15 jersey.
Following strong performances in the John I Dent Cup, Harry Lloyd is named as the replacement loosehead alongside Folau Fainga’a and Tom Ross as the reserve front row.
Fresh from an impressive Super Rugby debut last week, Luke Reimer will again provide an impact around the field as loose forward cover with squad replacement player Henry Stowers in line to make a remarkable Brumbies debut and add his experience from the pine.
After featuring in all nine games so far this year, Ryan Lonergan will earn another cap as the reserve scrumhalf, playing alongside on his brother in a Super Rugby Grand Final.
The 19-year-old Reesjan Pasitoa has been named for his first Grand Final appearance with the versatile and skilful Mack Hansen rounding out the match squad.
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“To most people, Frosty would be considered a lock, but we’ve always seen him as someone who can develop into a No.6,” Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.
“He’s tall, but he’s a real athlete and quick so he can do some damage out there.
“I was amazed Henry wasn’t signed by anyone across the globe, I thought he was outstanding last year for the Force and he’s worked hard to get himself in Super Rugby shape over the last few weeks and he’ll be good for us.
“If you can’t get motivated for Saturday you’re in the wrong game, we know Queensland are the favourites, and deservedly so. We’ve just got to get our game right and go up there to enjoy what’s a really special occasion.”
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Nick Frost, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Henry Stowers, 0 Luke Reimer, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Mack Hansen.
Date: Saturday, May 8
Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.45 (09.45 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Amy Perrett
TMO: James Leckie