Pocock blow for Brumbies
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Brumbies co-captain Sam Carter will play his 100th Brumbies Super Rugby match on Saturday as the reigning Champions the Crusaders visit GIO Stadium.
Carter will lead the team from the second row as he becomes just the twelfth player to reach the 100-cap milestone for the franchise, with head coach Dan McKellar making two changes for the big match.
The Brumbies will be without Australian flank David Pocock for the encounter with the dynamic flank ruled out of action due to a calf strain.
The absence of Pocock has forced a reshuffle in the Brumbies back row with Lachlan McCaffrey, Rob Valetini and Ben Hyne also all unavailable for selection. Blake Enever will therefore slot into the number six jersey with Tom Cusack moving to the other side of the scrum.
There's one other change to the team that started against the Jaguares at the same venue last Sunday, with centre Andrew Smith beginning his first Super Rugby match since the quarterfinal clash against the Hurricanes at GIO Stadium last year.
There are four changes amongst the replacements from the squad that faced the Argentineans with prop Ben Alexander in line to win his 148th cap, should he take to the field. Youngster Faalelei Sione, fresh from a hat-trick of tries for Royals in the Griffin Legal John I Dent Cup, is the other front-row replacement.
Lolo Fakaosilea is set for his first Super Rugby action since the match against the Chiefs in Hamilton in Round 17 last season, whilst Andy Muirhead is named in place of Smith on the bench as Kyle Godwin drops out of the matchday squad.
In the starting XV, Isi Naisarani continues in the back row alongside Enever and Cusack in a pack that looks strong and robust. Carter is partnered at lock by Rory Arnold, with the front row of Scott Sio, Folau Fainga’a and Allan Alaalatoa unchanged.
Behind the scrum, Joe Powell and Wharenui Hawera continue as the halfback pairing with Smith joined in the centre by Tevita Kuridrani. Out wide Chance Peni, Henry Speight and Tom Banks will aim to provide the thrust and pace to trouble the Crusaders defence.
The Brumbies last defeated the Crusaders in Canberra in 2009 with the New Zealanders having the upper hand in recent years. However, a new-look Brumbies outfit pushed the eventual champions close in Christchurch at the beginning of 2017 and will enter the fixture in a positive frame of mind.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 Chance Peni, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Blake Enever, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga'a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Faalelei Sione, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Andy Muirhead.
Date: Saturday, April 28
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.45 (21.45 NZ time; 09.45 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)