Scott Fardy will be sitting on the sideline this weekend in a shock decision Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham called a ‘tactical’ move ahead of their clash with the Force.
Fardy has started at blindside flanker for the Brumbies in their opening two games, but rookie Ben Hyne was preferred over the 32-year-old for Friday’s Force clash, with Fardy left out of the 23 for the first time since 2013.
After two impressive outings for the Brumbies this season, Fardy’s exclusion came as a surprise to many, with injury initially thought to be the reason for the switch.
Larkham cleared that up almost immediately, speaking to reporters on Thursday.
“That's a tactical decision, there's no injury there with Fards,” he said.
“It's just making sure we maintain the motivation in the group and keep the energy out there on the field.”
Larkham said the move was also rewarding Hyne, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in his Super Rugby debut last season, for some strong showings in the Brumbies ‘Runners’ team in recent weeks.
“Fards has had two tremendous games but Ben Hyne has also had some really good performances in both the preseason trials and the Runners games and he's been performing exceptionally at training as well,” he said.
“We're looking at the whole season as well as giving guys opportunities when they deserve it."
Fardy suffered an elbow hyperextension against the Sharks last Saturday night, but Larkham said he had recovered well from that in the days since.
“Fards went down in the game on the weekend (but) he pulled up really well out of that injury but it just made sense for us on a six-day turnaround to try and freshen up some of the guys,” he said.
Fardy’s omission is one of two changes to the starting XV, with Ben Alexander replacing Nic Mayhew at loosehead and Isaac Thompson making way for lock Blake Enever on a 6-2 bench.
While Larkham dismissed the notion Fardy’s absence was about preparing the team for 2018 and beyond when he’ll be in Ireland, he did say it would prove beneficial.
“It's not about seeing how they ( the younger guys) perform, we feel that this is the right mix for the group this week but, I guess in terms of the bigger picture, you've certainly got to look further afield,” he said.
“For us, that's not our focus.
“After the game, of we get the result that we want then we're on top of the Australian conference, which is where we would have liked to have been after the first round and then the second round.”
The Brumbies host the Force on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.
IN: Ben Hyne, Blake Enever
OUT: Scott Fardy, Isaac Thompson
Brumbies team to face the Force
1. Ben Alexander
2 Josh Mann-Rea
3. Allan Alaalatoa
4. Rory Arnold
5. Sam Carter
6. Ben Hyne
7. Chris Alcock
8. Jordan Smiler
9. Joe Powell
10. Wharenui Hawera
11. James Dargaville
12. Kyle Godwin
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Aidan Toua
16. Robbie Abel
17. Nic Mayhew
18. Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin
19. Blake Enever
20. Tom Staniforth
21. Lolo Fakaosilea
22. De Wet Roos
23. Andrew Smith