Brumbies to unleash Pollard against Highlanders
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wallabies Nic White, Irae Simone and Tom Wright have all been named to start for the Brumbies in their final Super Rugby Trans-Tasman fixture on Friday.
Brumbies supporters will get their first look at the highly-rated youngster, Billy Pollard, who is set to make his Super Rugby debut from the pine, named as the reserve hooker for the clash with the Highlanders in Canberra.
ACT product Lachlan Lonergan will again start at hooker in an unchanged front row from the side that defeated the Hurricanes, with Wallabies stalwarts Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa the starting props.
Darcy Swain has completed his return to play protocols to continue his partnership with Nick Frost in the second row.
Canberran Rory Scott returns to the back row at openside flank and will combine with powerhouse Rob Valetini and Henry Stowers who has been impressive since joining the club as a mid-season injury cover.
Wallabies No.9 Nic White will partner Bayley Kuenzle in the halves for the just the second time with coaching staff taking a conservative approach with Noah Lolesio, who suffered a minor injury during last weekend’s win over the Hurricanes.
The fleet-footed Len Ikitau’s selection at No.13 will re-ignite his midfield partnership with Simone who returns at inside centre.
Wright will be joined in the back three by Mack Hansen and Tom Banks, who has been in stellar form for the club at fullback.
Joining Pollard as front row cover will be Harry Lloyd and Tom Ross, with two Brumbies rookies, Luke Reimer and Tom Hooper the other forward replacements.
Ryan Lonergan reverts to the replacement scrumhalf role, with Reesjan Pasitoa the backup playmaker and Solomone Kata finalising the last Brumbies game day squad for 2021.
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“We were really happy with the response from the team last weekend but we also have an expectation to finish the season on a positive note on Friday,” Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.
“There’s no doubt Billy is an exceptional talent and he’s worked hard on the training paddock, and has now had valuable game time in the John I Dent Cup and we’re looking forward to seeing him take the next step in his career against the Highlanders.
“The side really got a lift out of the home crowd at GIO Stadium last Saturday and we can’t wait to play in front of our supporters and our families for the last time in 2021.”
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Bayley Kuenzle, 9 Nic White, 8 Henry Stowers, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Nick Frost, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Billy Pollard, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Tom Hooper, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Solomone Kata.
Date: Friday, June 11
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.45 (21.45 NZ time; 09.45 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Reuben Keane
TMO: Brett Cronan
🐴//🏉 Great to have some of the old boys join us in the sheds. Be there for our last game of the year on Friday night at @giostadium!
— Plus500 Brumbies (@BrumbiesRugby) June 8, 2021