Alexander to start for Brumbies
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has made two changes to the starting XV for the visit of the Western Force to Canberra on Friday.
Prop Ben Alexander and flank Ben Hyne will start their first games of the 2017 Super Rugby season in place of Nic Mayhew, who drops to the bench, and Scott Fardy respectively.
The fixture sees a return to the team for Hyne who made his debut against the Reds last season but saw his maiden appearance turn sour when he suffered an injury early in the game, curtailing his involvement.
Alexander meanwhile will make his 133rd Brumbies appearance lining up in the front row alongside fellow Wallabies Josh Mann-Rea and Allan Alaalatoa.
Blake Enever earns selection onto the Brumbies bench with Larkham opting for a 6-2 split in favour of forwards amongst the replacements. Enever, whose last appearance was in the second row in the Quarter Final loss to the Highlanders comes in for Isaac Thompson.
Otherwise the team is as is was for the clash with the Sharks with young half-back pairing Joe Powell and Wharenui Hawera continuing their burgeoning combination and Kyle Godwin linking up in the centre alongside Australian powerhouse Tevita Kuridrani.
Up front the hardworking Chris Alcock and Jordan Smiler form a solid and dependable looking back-row combination alongside Hyne, whilst Rory Arnold and skipper Sam Carter form the second row partnership for the twelfth time in the last fourteen Brumbies games.
The Brumbies enter the match with a positive record against the Force having defeated their Western Australian opponents on their last visit to Canberra, the 24-10 Round 17 victory in July last year.
Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Ben Hyne, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leulua’Iali’I-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Tom Staniforth, 21 Lolo Fakaosilea, 22 De Wet Roos, 23 Andrew Smith.
Date: Friday, March 10
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.45 (16.45 AWST; 08.45 GMT)
Referee: Peter Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)