Five changes to Brumbies starting XV

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Stephen Larkham has re-shaped his starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Highlanders, making five changes.

Larkham's Brumbies outclassed the Waratahs last Saturday but he has still put a handful of players on notice, dropping Rory Arnold, Ben Alexander, Lolo Fakaosilea and Nigel Ah Wong.

Josh Mann-Rae also drops out of the 23 due to a knee injury.

Nic Mayhew, Robbie Abel, Blake Enever, Chris Alcock and James Dargaville all come into the starting XV.

Some familiar faces have been named on the bench, with Saia Fainga'a and Scott Sio set to earn their first caps of 2017.Saia Fainga'a is in line for his first Brumbies cap since 2008. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"Saia Fainga'a's coming back this week and he's had some ups and downs and some family issues that he has had to deal with being the eldest son and a bit of a disjointed preparation for this game but he's raring to go," Larkham said.

"Very good to see him (Sio) back, he's worked really hard to get back as quickly as possible and was ahead of time last week and was pretty keen to play last week.

"He's looking a lot fitter than he was last year - he came back with a better attitude in the preseason, he's part of a leadership group and he's really taken that in his stride.

"He's highly motivated this year to perform well - he probably was a little bit disappointed with some of his showings last year and everything is pointing to a really good game from him."Larkham believes Scott Sio is in for a big year in Canberra. Photo: Getty ImagesLarkham commended his team's ability to close two tight games in a row after they lost two tight games in the opening fortnight.

"We've seen good progression in the team in the first two rounds," he said.

"What we are seeing is us converting those tight games over the last two weeks.

"Things are moving in the right direction but we're certainly not getting ahead of ourselves.

"Two wins against Australian sides is good for the record but the challenge for us is to have a better record against New Zealand sides and we come up against one of those this weekend."

TEAM

Brumbies team to take on the Highlanders

1. Nic MAYHEW
2. Robbie ABEL
3. Allan ALAALATOA
4. Blake ENEVER
5. Sam CARTER
6. Scott FARDY
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

Reserves

16. Saia FAINGA’A
17. Scott SIO
18. Ben ALEXANDER
19. Rory ARNOLD
20. Tom STANIFORTH
21. Lolo FAKAOSILEA
22. De Wet ROOS
23. Jordan JACKSON-HOPE

The Brumbies take on the Highlanders at GIO Stadium on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and radio streamed on RUGBY.com.au.

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