Brumbies co-captain stays on the bench
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Head Coach Dan McKellar has opted to keep co-captain Sam Carter on the bench for the Brumbies trip to Dunedin when they take on the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.
Co-captain Sam Carter, who crossed the whitewash last week in the 45-21 win over the Reds, will no doubt add impetus when called upon and he is joined by hooker Robbie Abel, prop Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, scrumhalf Joe Powell and utility Kyle Godwin as the finishers.
In terms of other team news, McKellar has made one change to the starting XV.
Tom Cusack comes into the starting line-up in place of the injured Lachlan McCaffrey who suffered a dislocated elbow in the victory over the Reds last weekend.
There are a further three changes amongst the replacements, the most notable being the inclusion of Tuggeranong Viking's flank Michael Oakman-Hunt, who could become Brumby #206 if he gets onto the field at any stage.
Oakman-Hunt was a part of the Vikings National Rugby Championship [NRC] team that reached the final of the competition this season, being defeated by Queensland Country in the showdown at Viking Park.
Elsewhere, prop Nick Mayhew is recalled to the squad in place of Faalelei Sione whilst Andrew Smith is included for the first time in 2018, coming onto the bench in place of James Verity-Amm who won his first Brumbies cap against the Reds.
The starting team has a settled look to it with McKellar keeping faith with the group that scored seven tries in succession in retaining the Rod Macqueen Cup in Canberra in Round 8.
Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa pack down either side of hooker Folau Fainga’a whilst Rory Arnold and Blake Enever comprise the second-row pairing, the former having scored a superb breakaway try last week.
With Cusack coming into the team, David Pocock and Isi Naisarani continue in the back row in a pack that scored five of the teams tries against the Queenslanders.
Behind the scrum, Matt Lucas remains at scrumhalf with Wharenui Hawera at pivot. Christian Lealiifano and Tevita Kuridrani form the centre pairing for the fourth game in succession, and it’s an unchanged back three, with Chance Peni and James Dargaville on the wings and Tom Banks at fullback.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 James Dargaville, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Chance Peni, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Matt Lucas, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Tom Cusack, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga'a, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Michael Oakman-Hunt, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Kyle Godwin, 23 Andrew Smith
Date; Saturday, April 14
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (17.35 AEST; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)