One change for Brumbies
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Hooker Connal McInerney will start a Super Rugby match for the first time this weekend when the Brumbies take on the Sunwolves from Japan on Sunday.
McInerney, who has won two Brumbies caps off the bench, will start in place of the suspended Folau Fainga’a, the only change from the starting XV that defeated the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria last Saturday.
The only other change comes on the bench where prop Ben Alexander, the 150-cap veteran, is selected amongst the Brumbies finishers alongside the same players who came off the bench to such fantastic effect in the win over the Bulls.
A decision on who will provide cover for the hooker position will be made closer to kick-off.
Wallabies front-rowers Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa will provide plenty of experience either side of McInerney with Blake Enever and Sam Carter providing an all-international partnership in the lock department.
There’s a bagful of talent in the back row as well with Lachlan McCaffrey and David Pocock offering mobility and dynamism alongside the raw power and physicality of number eight Isi Naisarani.
The backline has a settled feel, with the same group that tore apart the Bulls with fourteen-men given another chance to impress. Joe Powell and Christian Lealiifano continue at halfback with Kyle Godwin and Tevita Kuridrani in the centres.
Out wide, Andy Muirhead and Tom Banks, who both scored sparkling tries in Pretoria are on the left wing and at fullback respectively, with Henry Speight completing the back three.
On the bench, Nick Mayhew and Alexander are the prop changes with Richie Arnold and Tom Cusack the other forward cover. Matt Lucas, Wharenui Hawera, who provided two clutch conversions last week, and Andrew Smith provide the alternatives for the backs.
The Brumbies have only ever met the Sunwolves once before in Canberra, winning 66-5 in May 2016 and will be searching for back-to-back wins for the first time in nearly a year whilst the Sunwolves remain on the hunt for their maiden Super Rugby win away from home, having lost their previous 20 away matches.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Lachlan Mccaffrey, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Blake Enever, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Connal Mcinerney, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 TBC, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Andrew Smith.
Date: Sunday, June 2
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 16.05 (15.05 Japan time; 06.05 GMT)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)