Smiler set to crack 50 mark

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:50
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TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Back row forward Jordan Smiler is set to make his 50th Brumbies appearance, when they take on the Highlanders in Canberra on Saturday.

Coach Stephen Larkham has made five changes to the starting team who will be looking to increase their lead at the top of the Australian conference with a third straight win.

There are recalls for prop Nic Mayhew, flank Chris Alcock and wing James Dargaville, whilst hooker Robbie Abel, in for the injured Josh Mann-Rea, and second row forward Blake Enever make their first starts of the season.

Enever comes in for Rory Arnold who drops to the bench alongside Ben Alexander and Lolo Fakaosilea from the side that defeated the Waratahs 28-12 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

Larkham opts for a six forwards, two backs split amongst the replacements - with Tom Staniforth coming in for Ben Hyne and Andrew Smith dropping out of the 23. There are also first appearances for hooker Saia Fainga'a and prop Scott Sio as the Brumbies flex their squad strength.

Mayhew and Abel line up alongside Allan Alaalatoa in the front row whilst Enever partners Sam Carter at lock. The return of Alcock means the back row reverts to the trio that started the campaign with Scott Fardy at left flank and Jordan Smiler at No.8, the latter winning his 50th Brumbies cap.

The backs have a more settled look with halfbacks Joe Powell and Wharenui Hawera combining for the fifth straight fixture, whilst the only change from the Waratahs success sees Dargaville back on the left wing in place of Nigel Ah Wong.

Henry Speight lines up on the opposite wing, having scored four tries in four matches so far in the 2017 Super Rugby competition, outside of the centre pairing of Kyle Godwin and Tevita Kuridrani who are slowly forming into a potent combination. Aidan Toua continues at fullback.

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 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (captain), 4 Blake Enever, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Nathan Mayhew.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Tom Staniforth, 21 Lolo Fakaosilea, 22 De Wet Roos, 23 Jordan Jackson-Hope.

Date: Saturday, March 25
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.45 AEDT (21.45 NZDT; 08.45 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)

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Chiefs 11 9 0 2 43
Highlanders 12 9 0 3 41
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Cheetahs 12 2 0 10 11
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