Carter not stealing a grand final spot in John I Dent Cup

by Staff Writer

The undefeated Royals will have an extra boost in the John I Dent Cup final this weekend, with Brumbies co-captain Sam Carter coming off the bench.

Carter, who missed out on a spot in the Wallabies' Rugby Championship squad, will be part of Royals' 23 against Wests as they attempt the perfect season.

It's no finals parachuting, though, Royals coach Wayne Southwell said, with the 28-year-old simply filling a needed void.

Carter will join Super Rugby capped players Faalalei Sione, Tom Staniforth, Tom Cusack and Andy Muirhead in the Royals lineup.

"We’ve got plenty of Super Rugby experience, but all the players have played plenty of games with us this season," Southwell said.

"It’s great to have Sam Carter back, but he’s not taking anyone’s spot, he’s slipping onto the bench purely out of need.”

Tom Cusack has re-signed with the Brumbies  Photo: Getty imagesWests will be without club favourite Ben Coutts, whose shot at a fairytale career farewell was dashed by suspension after three yellow cards through the season saw him automatically rubbed out for the final.

They have their own backrow strike weapon, though, with MacDougall Medallist Bruce Kaino lining up at no. 8 for the Lions, set to butt heads with his fellow winner Cusack.

The Lions have not won the title since 2005, but have already defied the odds to make it to the last weekend of the John I Dent Cup, upsetting Queanbeyan in their opening week before overcoming Tuggeranong in the preliminary final.

The numbers will be against Wests again on Saturday, with Royals having won their two clashes this season, 46-7 and 41-22.

Wests coach Craig Robberds feels like his side has momentum behind it, and would take heart from a gritty preliminary final win over the Vikings, which came after two yellow cards.

“Our last six weeks have been pretty good, we’ve beaten some good sides, obviously last week we got the job done against Tuggeranong Vikings when we were down to 13, so that’s given us a lot of confidence, we’ll look to build on that," he said.

Robberds said Royals' outside backs would prove the ultimate threat, but it's far from the only intimidating thing about this year's clubhouse leaders.

“Defence is going to be important, obviously their back three is ruthless, and their defence has been pretty good too, so that’s something we’re going to be really focused on for the weekend.”

Royals will have the added benefit of having a week off heading into the final, with coach Wayne Southwell confident his side will make the most of that.

Though they've been racking up some big scores this season, Southwell said they would be ready for a grind if it came to that on Saturday.

“Last week’s recovery was really important, the major semi-final was our sixth game in a row, we were pretty desperate for a week off, it was a hard slog and there were some sore bodies.

"We’re recharged now, we’ve had very quick training sessions, but we need to focus on primarily playing our style, focus on what we’ve been doing.

"They’re contrasting styles, we play a very quick style whilst Wests play a very different style, but we have a strong defensive record, and finals footy is all about defence and getting our shapes right."

Royals take on Wests on Saturday in the John I Dent Cup final at Viking Park, kicking off at 3:25pm AEST LIVE STREAMED on the Brumbies Facebook page.

TEAMS

Royals

1. Faalelei Sione 

2. Conal McInerney

3. Joel Penders

4. Mike Fakava

5. Tom Staniforth

6. Tom Cusack

7. Alex Verass

8. Brendon Woodward

9. Pedro Rolando

10. Brent Hamlin

11. Seth Going

12. James Bodman

13. Jason Swain

14. Ben Johnston

15. Andy Muirhead

Wests

1. Harry Lloyd

2. TP Luteru

3. Marco Cecere

4. Kawa Leauma

5. Liam Rasch

6. Mitch Tye

7.Angus Allen

8. Bruce Kaino

9. Chris Ashmore

10. Te Campbell

11. Tui Samuelu

12. Nick Jooste

13. Brodie Leber

14. Junior Luteru 

15. Joel Astle

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