Brumbies tweak team for Jaguares clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Brumbies playmaker Christian Lealiifano will bring up his 150th Super Rugby appearance for the team when they face the Jaguares at the Estadio Jose Amalfitani in Buenos Aires in the Super Rugby semifinal on Friday.
The Brumbies skipper will lead a largely unchanged side into the cauldron of the home of Velez Sarsfeld FC hoping to guide the team into their seventh Super Rugby Grand Final and take another step towards a third title.
The only change from the starting XV that comprehensively saw off the Sharks at GIO Stadium last Saturday sees Lachlan McCaffrey come into the side at No.8, promoted form the replacements bench following the injury sustained by Pete Samu which precluded the Wallaby from travelling.
With McCaffrey in the run-on side, Murray Douglas is in line for his 11th appearance of the season as he steps into the finisher’s role amongst a strong-looking set of replacements with head coach Dan McKellar once more opting for six forwards and two backs.
Otherwise the Brumbies are the same combination that so effectively downed their South African opponents in front of a season’s best crowd in Canberra. McCaffrey joins a back-row that features dynamism and mobility in Rob Valetini and Tom Cusack with Rory Arnold and Sam Carter the second-row pairing.
Up front in the engine room the Wallaby trio of Scott Sio, eleven-try Folau Fainga’a and Allan Alaalatoa form a formidable front -row.
Behind the scrum the Joe Powell-Lealiifano axis remains intact with Irae Simone and Tevita Kuridrani in the centres. The pair have ten tries between them in 2019. The back-three all possess try-scoring nous and can point to a combined tally of a dozen tries with Tom Banks (six tries) at fullback and Henry Speight and Toni Pulu the express pairing on either wing.
Prop Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin is one of the six forwards as a substitute and the Brumbies stalwart will bring up his half-century of Super Rugby appearances when he is called upon.
James Slipper, Connal McInerney, Darcy Swain and Jahrome Brown join Douglas as the other forward replacements with Lucas and the versatile Tom Wright McKellar’s backs options.
Should the Brumbies be successful in their semifinal there are two potential Super Rugby Final fixtures that could take place next weekend.
If the Crusaders defeat the Hurricanes in Christchurch, the Brumbies will travel to New Zealand, whilst if the Hurricanes claim the win the New Zealanders will be the opposition at GIO Stadium.
— Plus500 Brumbies (@BrumbiesRugby) June 26, 2019
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Lealiifano (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Lachlan Mccaffrey, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Connal Mcinerney, 17 James Slipper, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Murray Douglas, 21 Jahrome Brown, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Tom Wright.
Date: Friday, June 28
Venue: Estadio José Amalfitani, Buenos Aires
Kick-off: 20:05 (23.05 GMT; 09.05 Canberra time Saturday, June 29)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)_
TMO: Santiago Borsani (Argentina)