Pocock to make long-awaited return
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wallaby flank David Pocock will make his long-awaited return to action this weekend after being named in the Brumbies team to take on old foes the Waratahs at GIO Stadium on Saturday.
In so doing, the superstar forward will play his 100th match of Super Rugby, having racked up 69 appearances for the Force before heading to the capital to sign for the Brumbies in 2013.
The addition of Pocock to the starting XV is the only change from the team that defeated the Sharks in Round Five meaning that the back row will see the 65-times capped international lining up alongside Lachlan McCaffrey and Isi Naisarani.
In front of this mobile and dynamic trio are the second-row pairing of Rory Arnold and Blake Enever who will lock the scrum behind the starting front row of Wallabies Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa and hooker Folau Fainga’a.
Joe Powell and Wharenui Hawera will continue their halfback partnership after Hawera's excellent performance against the Sharks with Christian Lealiifano and Tevita Kuridrani tasked with finding the gaps in the Waratahs defensive line from centre.
Should they succeed, the Brumbies trio of fliers out-wide, Henry Speight, Lausii Taliauli and Andy Muirhead have the skills, acceleration and finishing power to take advantage of any opportunities that may arise.
Amongst the replacements, McKellar has been forced into making several changes due to injury and unavailability with the result the prospect of prop forward Mees Erasmus making his Super Rugby debut.
The former Force front-rower has looked sharp in training and performed admirably in the pre-season trial matches against both the Rebels in Queanbeyan and the Chiefs on the Sunshine Coast as well as being part of the squad that participated at the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens.
Erasmus is joined by the returning Robbie Abel and fellow prop Faalelei Sione whilst Richie Arnold and Tom Cusack provide cover in the lock department and back-row respectively.
There also appears to be plenty in reserve amongst the backs with Matt Lucas, Kyle Godwin and Tom Banks ready to step off the bench and make their mark in a match that is traditionally one of the highlights of the season.
Brumbies: 15 Andy Muirhead, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Lausii Taliauli, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga'a, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Faalelei Sione, 18 Mees Erasmus, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Kyle Godwin, 23 Tom Banks.
Date: Saturday, March 31
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.45 (08.45 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nicholas Berry (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)