Brumbies bring in a playmaker for Rebels clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Four changes are made to the Brumbies starting XV for the crunch match against the Melbourne Rebels at GIO Stadium on Saturday.
Christian Lealiifano, Lachlan McCaffrey and Rob Valetini return to bolster the Brumbies team.
Lealiifano slots into the inside centre role alongside Tevita Kuridrani, who is winning his 99th Brumbies Super Rugby cap, as head coach Dan McKellar switches two in the pack and two in the backs.
There's a welcome, and timely, return from injury for two of the team’s backrowers as young gun Rob Valetini packs down at No.8, featuring for the first time since he was taken off injured in the season opener against the Sunwolves in Tokyo back in February.
Valetini is joined by flank Lachlan McCaffrey, the experienced forward having recovered from an elbow injury sustained in the clash with the Reds at GIO Stadium which forced him to miss three matches.
This duo are joined by Tom Cusack in the back row whilst the remainder of the pack, the tight five, is the same as took to the field against the Crusaders in the team's last outing. Sam Carter and Rory Arnold are a solid and dependable lock pairing behind a settled front row of Scott Sio, Folau Fainga'a and Allan Alaalatoa.
In the backs, there's a return to the starting side for Andrew Muirhead, his first start since playing at fullback against the Waratahs and a maiden outing on the left wing, selected in place of Chance Peni.
With Wallabies international Lealiifano also back in the fold, the youthful halfback pairing of Joe Powell and Wharenui Hawera have more experience outside them with the rest of the backline seeing Henry Speight on the right wing and the dynamic Tom Banks at fullback.
The replacements bench sees two modifications from the last outing against the Crusaders with Blake Enever dropping to the finishers in place of Darcy Swain and Lausii Taliauli brought in with Muirhead promoted.
The last time the Brumbies met the Rebels at GIO Stadium, the home side triumphed 32-3 with the Rebels winning the last clash between the teams in Round Five earlier this season.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Lachlan Mccaffrey, 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 Blake Enever, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Lausii Taliauli.
Date: Saturday, May 12
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.45 (09.45 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)