Brumbies' new captain quickly into the trenches
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Newly appointed captain Christian Lealiifano will lead the Brumbies into action against the Waratahs in their final trial match at Goulburn Workers Arena on Thursday.
The Brumbies playmaker will line-up at flyhalf for the clash against the Brumbies oldest rivals, the final chance that coach Dan McKellar will have to fine-tune his group ahead of the season opener against the Rebels next Friday.
McKellar has selected an exciting starting XV to take on the Waratahs and includes 17 players on the replacements bench, all of whom will see significant minutes ahead of the Super Rugby kick-off.
Wallabies international hooker Folau Fainga’a comes into the side in the front row alongside James Slipper and Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, whilst there is an all-international second row pairing in the shape of Rory Arnold and Sam Carter.
Rob Valetini, Tom Cusack and Lachlan McCaffrey provide power and mobility in the back row forward in a pack that is studded with experience and nous at the coalface.
In the backline, Irae Simone starts at inside centre, continuing his partnership with Tevita Kuridrani that yielded dividends in the opening trial against the Rebels with a sharp and firing Kuridrani claiming a hat-trick of tires inside the opening forty minutes of a contest played in three thirds.
Wallabies star Tom Banks will wear the number fifteen jersey at fullback with pace and power outside him in the shape of Lausii Taliauli on the left wing and Kiwi speedster Toni Pulu on the opposite flank.
Fan favourite Henry Speight is named amongst a plethora of substitutes along with Pete Samu and new signings Murray Douglas, Vunipola Fifita, Jahrome Brown, Tom Wright and Bayley Kuenzle.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Lausii Taliauli, 10 Christian Lealiifano (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Robbie Valetini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements – from: Josh Mann-Rea, Tom Ross, Vunipola Fifita, Blake Enever, Jahrome Brown, Matt Lucas, Wharenui Hawera, Chance Peni, Darcy Swain, Murray Douglas, Pete Samu, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Henry Speight, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Bayley Kuenzle.
Date: Thursday, February 7
Venue: Goulburn Workers Arena
Kick-Off: 18.30 (07.30 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Amy Perrett, James Quinn