Pocock headlines changes for knockout final

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by AAP & Beth Newman

Superstar flanker David Pocock headlines a swathe of Brumbies changes for Friday's quarter-final against the Highlanders.

Pocock has been given medical clearance to return from a fractured eye socket suffered in the Wallabies June Test series, after training with the squad in recent weeks.

He slots straight back into the openside spot, with Jarrad Butler lining up at number eight and Michael Wells shifting to the bench.

Pocock's return is just the beginning of the Brumbies' changes for the knockout clash.

Robbie Coleman has been promoted to a starting wing spot after impressing in club rugby, pushing James Dargaville to an extended bench.

Ruan Smith will start at tighthead prop for the second straight week, with veteran  Ben Alexander dropping out of the matchday squad altogether, replaced by Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin. 

Shane Christie will line up for the Highlanders. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Highlanders will welcome their own big name back for the match, with co-captain Shane Christie overcoming illness to take his place for the Kiwis.

Christie missed the defending champions' past two matches after feeling unwell and leaving the field midway through the win over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.

The openside flanker's return to face the Brumbies on Friday night is one of three personnel changes to the Highlanders' starting side from their 25-15 win over the Chiefs.

Also back is new All Black Liam Squire, who impressed off the bench against the Chiefs and takes over at No.8, with the versatile Luke Whitelock moving to lock.

At tighthead prop, Josh Hohneck is promoted from the reserves in a rotation with Siosiua Halanukonuka.

After choosing six forwards for his bench against the Chiefs, coach Jamie Joseph has opted for the more usual five-three split, with Rob Thompson coming in as the extra back and lock Alex Ainley dropping out.

The Brumbies are giving away free pies to the first 2000 through the gates this weekend, with members already snapping up 7200 tickets ahead of the Friday night clash.

The match kicks off at 6pm AEST Friday night, with the winner qualifying for the Super Rugby semi-finals.

Brumbies team to face Highlanders (one to be omitted)

1. Scott Sio

2. Stephen Moore (c)

3. Ruan Smith

4. Blake Enever

5. Sam Carter

6. Scott Fardy

7. David Pocock

8. Jarrad Butler

9. Tomás Cubelli

10. Christian Lealiifano (c)

11. Robbie Coleman

12. Matt Toomua

13. Tevita Kuridrani

14. Nigel Ah Wong

15. Aidan Toua

Reserves

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 Taliauli

Highlanders

1. Dan Lienert-Brown

2. Ash Dixon

3. Josh Hohneck

4. Tom Franklin

5. Luke Frankline

6. Elliot Dixon

7. Shane Christie

8. Liam Squire

9. Aaron Smith

10. Lima Sopoaga

11. Patrick Osborne

12. Malakai Fekitoa

13. Matt Faddes

14. Waisake Naholo

15. Ben Smith

Reserves 

16. Liam Coltman

17. Aki Seiuli

18. Siosiua Halanukonuka.

19. Mark Reddish

20. Dan Pryor

21. Te Aihe Toma

22. Fletcher Smith

23. Rob Thompson


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