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Seasoned campaigners George Smith and Clyde Rathbone make a return to the University of Canberra Brumbies starting XV this Sunday in the side’s first finals appearance in nine years.
Both players returned to the Brumbies for an unlikely finals appearance in 2013, Rathbone from retirement and Smith from Japan.
Having won a combined three Super Rugby titles between them, Rathbone and Smith add big game know-how to a young Brumbies team with only two other players, Ben Mowen and Ian Prior, having experienced play-off rugby with other clubs.
With Rathbone starting, Tomane moves to the bench while Robbie Coleman drops out of the 22-man squad. Colby Faingaa also slides to the bench with Smith taking the starting No. 7 jersey.
Also returning to the starting side for the first time since injuring his shoulder against the Rebels is Nic White, with Ian Prior returning to the bench and Mark Swanepoel out of the 22-man squad.
“Bringing two guys like Clyde and George into our starting side will give us experience when we need it. Those two guys have both won championships at Canberra Stadium and it’s exciting to have them involved,” Head Coach Jake White said.
“The Cheetahs are a side which has made huge improvements over the last two seasons and it’s a credit to them that they are now a competition threat.
“It’s exciting for our fans that finals rugby is back in Canberra and I’m hoping that results in a big crowd coming out to support us on Sunday afternoon.”
Since the last Brumbies finals match, 78 players have debuted for the club including 50-gamers Peter Kimlin, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Lealiifano, Ben Alexander, Julian Savli, Salesi Maafu and Pat Phibbs.
Sunday will be the eighth final played at Canberra Stadium since the Brumbies debuted in playoff rugby, back in 1997.
University of Canberra Brumbies v Cheetahs
Canberra Stadium, Bruce
Referee: Glenn Jackson
POS: Openside Flanker
H/W: 1.80m, 104kg
DOB: 14/07/1980, Sydney
Super Rugby Caps: 139
Super Rugby Points: 90 (18t)
Super Rugby Debut: 2000 v Sharks
Test Rugby Caps: 111
Test Rugby Points: 45 (9t)
Test Rugby Debut: 2000 v France, Paris
POS: Outside Centre
H/W: 181cm, 93kg
DOB: 23/06/1981, Durban, South Africa
Senior Club: Easts, ACT
Super Rugby Caps: 61 (3 Sharks)
Super Rugby Points: 90 (18t)
Super Rugby Debut: 2002 v Crusaders, Durban (Sharks)
Test Rugby Caps: 26
Test Rugby Points: 40 (8t)
Test Rugby Debut: 2004 v Scotland, Melbourne
H/W: 175cm, 82kg
DOB: 13/06/1990, Scone, NSW
Senior Club: Queanbeyan, ACT
Super Rugby Caps: 31
Super Rugby Points: 33 (3t, 6p)
Super Rugby Debut: 2011 v Reds, Brisbane
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Scott Sio
2. Stephen Moore
3. Ben Alexander
4. Scott Fardy
5. Sam Carter
6. Peter Kimlin
7. George Smith
8. Ben Mowen (c)
9. Nic White
10. Matt Toomua
11. Clyde Rathbone
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Jesse Mogg
16. Siliva Siliva
17. Ruan Smith
18. Fotu Auelua
19. Colby Faingaa
20. Ian Prior
21. Andrew Smith
22. Joe Tomane
Western Force hooker Heath Tessman has re-signed with the club for the 2016 season.
All the elements of the new broadcast deal.