Rathbone the Brumbies' bolter
Rathbone the Brumbies' bolterSHARE
Seasoned campaigners George Smith and Clyde Rathbone make a return to the Brumbies starting XV this Sunday in the side's first Super Rugby play-off appearance in nine years.
Both players returned to the Brumbies for an unlikely finals appearance in 2013, Rathbone from retirement and Smith from Japan.
Having won a combined three Super Rugby titles between them, Rathbone and Smith add big game know-how to a young Brumbies team with only two other players, Ben Mowen and Ian Prior, having experienced play-off conditions with other franchises.
With Rathbone starting, Joe Tomane moves to the bench, while Robbie Coleman drops out of the 22-man squad.
Colby Faingaa also slides to the bench with Smith taking the starting No.7 jersey.
Also returning to the starting side for the first time since injuring his shoulder against the Rebels is Nic White, with Ian Prior returning to the bench and Mark Swanepoel out of the 22-man squad.
"Bringing two guys like Clyde and George into our starting side will give us experience when we need it," coach Jake White said.
"Those two guys have both won championships at Canberra Stadium and it's exciting to have them involved.
"The Cheetahs are a side which has made huge improvements over the last two seasons and it's a credit to them that they are now a competition threat.
"It's exciting for our fans that finals rugby is back in Canberra and I'm hoping that results in a big crowd coming out to support us on Sunday."
Since the last Brumbies finals match, 78 players have debuted for the franchise including 50-gamers Peter Kimlin, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Lealiifano, Ben Alexander, Julian Savli, Salesi Maafu and Pat Phibbs.
Sunday will be the eighth final played at Canberra Stadium since the Brumbies debuted in the play-offs back in 1997.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 George Smith, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Andrew Smith, 22 Joe Tomane.
Date: Sunday, July 21
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 16.10 (08.10 SA time; 06.10 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)