Rathbone's half-ton comeback
Thu, 14 Feb 2013 08:41
This is by far the best side we can put on the field
Wallaby star Clyde Rathbone will complete a remarkable comeback when he runs out on the left wing for the Brumbies against the Reds on Saturday.
The season-opener, between the Canberra-based outfit and their rivals from Brisbane, is a special match for Rathbone - who not only makes his return to the game after three years out, but he also claims his 50th Brumbies cap.
The Brumbies made just one change to the starting side which defeated the ACT XV last Friday, with Henry Speight sliding onto the other wing and Joe Tomane to the bench.
Speight came from the bench last week and made a positive impact against the Force in Darwin.
He was the Brumbies and Australian Conference top-try scorer in 2012 and one of the franchise's best finishers.
Lining up for their first competition games in Brumbies colours are Siliva Siliva and David Pocock.
Siliva, who has been named on the bench behind Stephen Moore, has come through a season of injuries in 2012 to be 100 percent fit for his Super Rugby debut on Saturday.
He's joined by his former Western Force teammate Pocock who earns his 70th Super Rugby cap as a Brumby.
Coach Jake White was pleased to give Siliva a chance on the bench after the former Australian Under-20 hooker worked his way back from a tough place last year.
“[Siliva's] waited a long time, the poor guy got two terrible knee injuries then had to wait behind Anthony Hegarty so I'm sure he's excited and relieved to be at this point,” White said.
“I've seen him play before, I went to Perth when we signed him and I can say he's a very skilful player, Siliva will fit into what we're doing without any trouble.”
With Pocock and Rathbone both featuring for the Brumbies on Saturday, White was pleased with the strength of his squad.
“This is by far the best side we can put on the field this weekend, there's no point in playing ducks and drakes out there - this is our team, we know our job and we are looking forward to putting it into action,” he said.
“What's nice about our team is that we finalised it a long time ago. I'm enjoying the fact that we are being talked up, particularly when you think of where we were this time last year, no-one knew what to expect from.
“There's pressure every week - we are playing at home and that's something you can't take away. The way we deal with that pressure will be the difference on Saturday. I'd far rather have the pressure of being taken seriously that being underdogs all the time.
“If we are good enough to beat the Reds, who have been Australian Champions for the last two years, then we're good enough to beat anyone.”
White held plenty of praise for his new recruit Pocock, who he rates amongst the world's best. He said Brumbies fans would be packing the stadium on Saturday to see their new star in actions.
“You talk about Jonah Lomu and Richie McCaw being world beaters, really you have to include David in that calibre of player. He's a game changer, he has the ability to work a game in his favour, we saw it at the World Cup in New Zealand when he turned the game on the Springboks and kept the Wallabies in the tournament.
“That's the sort of player I'm looking forward to having at the Brumbies.”
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 David Pocock, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Colby Faingaa, 19 Fotu Auelua, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Joseph Tomane, 22 Robbie Coleman.
Date: Saturday, February 16
Venue: Canberra Stadium Canberra
Kick-off: 19.40 (08.40 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia) Ian Smith (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)
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