Canberra Super rugby team the Brumbies have named their team to play in the Super rugby season opener against the Rebels.
Flyhalf Christian Lealiifano will lead the Brumbies into action in their first Super Rugby match of 2019 after being named as captain for the clash with the Rebels at GIO Stadium.
Lealiifano is one of eleven players in the starting XV that have international experience and will form a mobile and exciting half-back partnership with scrum half Joe Powell.
New signing James Slipper is given the nod to start in the front row, for his first Brumbies run, alongside Wallabies rake Folau Fainga’a and the solid, and effective, Allan Alaalatoa.
There’s bulk in the second row with Rory Arnold and Sam Carter paired together whilst the World Class David Pocock, who is vice-captain, will pack down in the back row along with young tyro Rob Valetini and the experienced Lachlan McCaffrey.
Outside the Powell-Lealiifano axis, Irae Simone will make his Brumbies debut, Head Coach Dan McKellar picking Simone at inside centre in a potentially devastating combination with Tevita Kuridrani, the latter having been in sparkling form in the trial matches against the Rebels and Waratahs.
Out wide, Henry Speight, who spent the Super Rugby off-season with Ulster in the PRO14 competition, begins on the right flank with Toni Pulu selected and gaining his first cap on the opposite flank. Tom Banks rounds out the starting side at fullback.
There is plenty of experience amongst the replacements with Brumbies fans likely to see a first cap for the strong carrying Pete Samu, who provides cover in the back row.
Wallaby international Scott Sio, the ageless hooker Josh Mann-Rea and the always reliable Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin are the front row options, with Blake Enever, Wharenui Hawera and Matt Lucas rounding out the initial Gameday 23 for 2019.
James Slipper , Folau Fainga’a, Allan Alaalatoa , Rory Arnold, Sam Carter, Rob Valetini ,David Pocock, Lachlan McCaffrey , Joe Powell, Christian Lealiifano (c) ,Toni Pulu ,Irae Simone ,Tevita Kuridrani ,Henry Speight ,Tom Banks
Replacements Josh Mann-Rea,Scott Sio,Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin,Blake Enever,Peter Samu ,Matt ,Wharenui Hawera,Andy Muirhead
1. Tetera Faulkner,2. Anaru Rangi,3. Jermaine Ainsley,4. Luke Jones,5. Matt Philip,6. Angus Cottrell,7. Richard Hardwick,8. Isi Naisarani,9. Will Genia,10. Quade Cooper,11. Marika Koroibete,12. Billy Meakes,13. Tom English,14. Jack Maddocks,15. Dane Haylett-Petty (Captain)
Replacements : 16. Robbie Abel ,17. Matt Gibbon,18. Sam Talakai,19. Esei Ha’angana,20. Brad Wilkin,21. Rob Leota,22. Michael Ruru,23. Semisi Tupou