Cape Town - The Brumbies have named their side to face the Highlanders at
GIO Stadium on Friday, with David Pocock's return a major boost to
Kick-off is at 10:00 SA time.
Pocock will return following six weeks on the sidelines. He has
recovered from a fractured eye socket sustained during the first Test
against England. Having consulted with specialists, he will take his
place at openside flanker against the defending Super Rugby champions.
While Pocock’s return is a boost for the side, newly-capped Wallabies
lock Rory Arnold has been ruled out of this week’s match after failing
to recover from an elbow injury suffered during last week’s win over the
Western Force. Blake Enever will take Arnold’s spot in the starting
In other changes for the squad, Robbie Coleman returns to the side
after three weeks of strong performances for Queanbeyan in the John I
Dent Cup. He replaces James Dargaville on the wing, Dargaville has been
named on an extended bench.
Ruan Smith will start at tighthead prop with Leslie
Leulua’iali’i-Makin named on the extended bench after recovering from
injury. Leulua’iali’i-Makin replaces Ben Alexander on the reserves list.
Head coach Stephen Larkham said he believed the Smith and
Leulua’iali’i-Makin combination is suited for Friday’s match against a
strong Highlanders pack.
Smith and Leulua’iali’i-Makin were the Brumbies tighthead props when the side travelled to Invercargill earlier this year.
On that occasion, both teams were strong at the set-piece and it will be a critical part of the match again this Friday.
Leulua’iali’i-Makin has missed a number of matches through injury
following the June break, however he played 80 minutes last week in club
rugby and has continued to improve his game this season.
Smith will start alongside Scott Sio and co-captain Stephen Moore in the front row while Enever and Sam Carter are the locks.
Scott Fardy has been named at blindside flanker with Pocock at openside, while Jarrad Butler switches back to number eight.
Tomás Cubelli will start his first Super Rugby finals match at
scrum-half next to experienced co-captain Christian Leali'ifano. Matt
Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani are the centres. Coleman and Nigel Ah Wong
have been named on the wings while Aidan Toua is the full-back.
Josh Mann-Rea, Allan Alaalatoa and Ruan Smith will bolster the front
row from the bench while Tom Staniforth and Michael Wells have both been
named as reserves for their first finals match. Jordan Smiler has not
been named after five weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury suffered
during the World 10s tournament held in Mauritius in June.
Larkham has named an extended squad with Joe Powell, Andrew Smith,
Lausii Taliauli and James Dargaville all in contention for Friday's
match. The reserves list will be trimmed ahead of kick-off.
The last time these two teams met was in round ten in Invercargill.
On that occasion the defending champs won 23-10 in wet and windy
15 Aidan Toua, 14 Nigel Ah Wong, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11
Robbie Coleman, 10 Christian Leali'ifano (co-captain), 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8
Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Blake
Enever, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Stephen Moore (co-captain) 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes (one to be omitted): 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan
Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Michael
Wells, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 James Dargaville, 24 Lausii
Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Matt Faddes, 12 Malakai
Fekitoa, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam
Squire, 7 Shane Christie (co-captain), 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Luke Whitelock,
4 Tom Franklin, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 Mark
Reddish, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Te Aihe Toma, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Rob