SUPER RUGBY PREVIEW : Brumbies vs Chiefs

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Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham has named an unchanged starting line-up for Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash with the Chiefs in Canberra.

The replacements bench features three changes from the team that defeated the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last Saturday.

Josh Mann-Rea returns to the squad as a reserve following a one-week suspension, Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin also returns after missing the match against the Cheetahs and scrum-half Joe Powell comes into the squad as a reserve for the first time this season.

Scott Sio, Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander (who scored his 20th career try last week) will pack down in the front row while Rory Arnold and Sam Carter have been named as locks.

Scott Fardy, David Pocock and Ita Vaea will form an imposing backrow while Tomás Cubelli and Christian Lealiifano continue to link up in the halves.

Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani are the centres while Joe Tomane and Robbie Coleman remain on the wing. Coleman started his first match of 2016 in the win over the Cheetahs following injury to Henry Speight. Aidan Toua rounds out the starting side at fullback after scoring his first Brumbies try on Saturday.

Mann-Rea is one of three players in the Brumbies squad to have scored two tries over the opening five rounds of competition and will be a valuable addition to the reserves list along with Leulua’iali’i-Makin and Powell.

For Powell, it will be his first appearance for the Brumbies in almost 12 months. In 2015, he was thrown into Super Rugby when Nic White was injured. Powell was then plucked out of the John I Dent Cup to make three appearances from the bench in Stephen Larkham’s side.

Now, he is regarded as one of the best up and coming young scrumhalves in Australian Rugby. The 21-year old’s performances in the 2015 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship earned him the UC Vikings Best Back Award.

After starting this season on an Extended Playing Squad contract, Powell recently signed a new two-year deal to stay with the Brumbies.

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has made just two changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.

Both changes affect the backline with Anton Lienert-Brown returning from injury to start at outside centre and Toni Pulu getting an opportunity to impress on the right wing.

There are three changes to the reserves with Maama Vaipulu coming in as loose-forward cover, midfield powerhouse Seta Tamanivalu to don jersey 22 and exciting young utility-back Shaun Stevenson making his return to the matchday 23 after sustaining a minor shoulder injury in round one against the Crusaders.

“It’s good to get some consistency in selection after last week,” said Rennie.

“Anton Lienert-Brown comes back from injury to start after an outstanding performance against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. Toni Pulu gets his first start after an exciting cameo off the bench against the Western Force last week.

“It’s always a big challenge going to Canberra and playing against the best Australian side. It’ll be a test of us as individuals and a gauge as to where we’re at as a group” said Rennie.

Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Christian Lealiifano (cc), 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (cc), 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Joe Powell, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Nigel Ah Wong

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (cc), 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (cc), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Taleni Seu, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Mitchell Graham
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 19 James Tucker, 20 Maama Vaipulu, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Seta Tamanivalu, 23 Shaun Stevenson

Date: Saturday, April 2
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19:40 local (08:40 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: William Houston, James Leckie
TMO: Ian Smith


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