The big guns are back for the biggest game of the Brumbies’ season, with seven Wallabies recalled for a vital clash with the top-ranked Chiefs on Saturday.
Captain Allan Alaalatoa, powerful flank Rob Valetini and star fullback Tom Wright are joined by James Slipper, Lachie Lonergan, Nick Frost and Len Ikitau in returning to the side after missing last week’s loss to the Western Force through prescribed national team rest.
It sets things up perfectly for one of the biggest matches of the entire Super Rugby Pacific season, with Australia and New Zealand’s respective best teams squaring off for the first time this year.
But Eddie Jones’ Wallabies resting policy has caused havoc with the Brumbies’ season.
They rested five national team players for the round-five loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch and another eight for last weekend’s defeat in Perth.
Those two setbacks have not only put them at risk of missing out on a home semi-final, slipping from second to third, but they could yet fall outside the top four altogether and not even host a match in the first weekend of the post-season.
“Regardless of the changes, last week was disappointing for the group and we’ve worked hard this week to make sure we’re prepared to perform Saturday,” Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said.
“It’s obviously pleasing to bring the boys that were rested back in.
“We have a lot of respect for the Chiefs, there’s a lot of history there.
“These are the games as a professional that you prepare all year for and we’re excited for the challenge.”
Wallabies duo Cadeyrn Neville and Nic White will miss the contest, the latter still nursing a sternum injury he suffered a fortnight back against the Highlanders, although it’s expected both will be fit for the Brumbies’ final regular season game against the Melbourne Rebels.
The Brumbies will be looking to protect their perfect record at GIO Stadium, having gone 5-0 on home turf this season.
BRUMBIES SQUAD TO FACE THE CHIEFS: James Slipper, Lachlan Lonergan, Allan Alaalatoa, Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Rob Valetini, Jahrome Brown, Pete Samu, Ryan Lonergan, Noah Lolesio, Corey Toole, Tamati Tua, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright. Reserves: Connal McInerney, Blake Schoupp, Sefo Kautai, Darcy Swain, Luke Reimer, Klayton Thorn, Jack Debreczeni, Ollie Sapsford.