The Brumbies and Hurricanes face off in a crucial Super Rugby encounter at GIO Stadium in Canberra on Saturday.
The Hurricanes will be without both their captain and best player away at a full-strength Brumbies side and can ill-afford to drop any more points with the Highlanders breathing down their neck.
Skipper Brad Shields has been afforded a rest following his involvement in England’s recent Test series in South Africa, while World Rugby Player of the Year Beauden Barrett is still recovering from concussion sustained in the All Blacks’ second Test against France.
TJ Perenara has taken over the captaincy with Jackson Garden-Bachop outside him. Garden-Bachop endured a few forgettable performances for the Melbourne Rebels last season, but he was hardly given the front-foot ball he desired then, so perhaps he will prove the doubters, who feel Ihaia West should have started, wrong.
The lesser experienced Sam Henwood, who usually plays on the openside flank, has been drafted in as a replacement for Shields at blindside flanker and will have his hands full at the breakdown up against the the irrepressible David Pocock.
The Hurricanes will need to stand up to a Brumbies pack that is all about physicality, while there are guns out wide for the Canberra outfit, with full-back Tom Banks in particularly hot form leading up to the international break.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, tend to do well after the international break, winning on recent occassions with two of those victories coming after trailing at half-time.
They also boast a points differential of 55 in the opening quarter of games this season, better than any other team in the competition while they are the competition’s stingiest defence, having conceded the fewest tries in the competition (32) so the Brumbies must be quick out the blocks.
Team news: Brumbies head coach Dan McKellar has made four changes to his pack for Saturday.
Hooker Folau Fainga’a, prop Ben Alexander, lock Rory Arnold and flanker Tom Cusack all make a return to the starting XV in the only changes from the side that defeated the Sunwolves 41-31 before the June break.
Fainga’a, who was with the Wallabies for their three-match series against Ireland, replaces Connal McInerney at hooker with McInerney reverting to the bench whilst Ben Alexander comes in at prop for the injured Allan Alaalatoa.
Scott Sio completes the front-row and will have Rory Arnold and Blake Enever packing down behind him at lock. Arnold comes back into the side with co-captain Sam Carter unavailable.
Dynamic flanker Tom Cusack replaces Lachlan McCaffrey in the back-row, McCaffrey suffering from a bad back, whilst David Pocock and Isi Naisarani complete what looks like a strong scrummaging unit.
The backs remained unchanged from the team that secured a bonus-point against the Sunwolves with Joe Powell, who won his fourth Wallabies cap in the third Test against Ireland in Sydney, partnered once more by fly-half Christian Lealiifano, who will captain the team.
Meanwhile, experienced scrum-half TJ Perenara will lead the Hurricanes. Perenara takes over the captaincy from Brad Shields.
Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has made a number of changes to the squad which lost 30-14 to the Highlanders in Dunedin prior to the June international window.
Beauden Barrett, who continues to make good progress following his concussion in the second Test against France, will have the second of his All Black stand-down matches and is replaced by Jackson Garden-Bachop at fly-half.
With Shields absent, Reed Prinsep comes on to the side of the scrum while a high ankle sprain to Ardie Savea has seen Sam Henwood selected to start.
Henwood, who came into the starting side earlier in the season when Savea suffered a rib injury, showed he could have a real influence on a match as he showed in his first start against the Rebels in Melbourne.
2017: Hurricanes won 35-16 in Canberra
2017: Hurricanes won 56-21 in Wellington
2016: Brumbies won 52-10 in Canberra
2015: Hurricanes won 29-9 in Wellington
2014: Brumbies won 29-21 in Wellington
2013: Brumbies won 30-23 in Canberra
2012: Brumbies won 37-25 in Wellington
2011: Brumbies won 17-16 in Canberra
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Tom Cusack, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Folau Faingaa, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Darcy Swain, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Lausii Taliauli
Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Jordie Barrett, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Sam Henwood, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Wes Goosen
Date: Saturday, June 30
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19:45 local (10:45 BST, 09:45 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Referees: Will Houston, James Leckie
TMO: Ian Smith