Qantas Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani will come back into the Aquis Brumbies starting lineup as the Canberra side look to roll the dice against the Highlanders on Friday night. Stephen Larkham has made a sweep of changes to his backline, with Jesse Mogg named at fullback, Robbie Coleman to play inside centre and Henry Speight to shift out to right wing.
In the pack, twins Ruan and JP Smith will become the first brothers to start in the front-row for the Brumbies, while Ita Vaea gets his chance at No.8 in place of Jarrad Butler. Rory Arnold and Ben Alexander are being rested on the bench, which makes way for Blake Enever and Jordan Smiler to partner in the second row for the first time.
The Brumbies currently sit on top of the Australian Asteron Life Super Rugby conference and coach Stephen Larkham is confident the side he has chosen will get the job done tonight.
“We’ve made a few changes in the forward pack and I look at our backline and they are our most experienced players that we have to pick from. They [Kuridrani and Mogg] were both regulars in the side last year and I think that bit of experience in the backline will certainly help,” Larkham said.
“With all the forwards you’ve got to make sure you keep them fresh. It’s a long season, I know we’ve got a couple of byes in the season but it’s very important to rotate those guys around and like I said before Ruan and JP have been performing really well off the bench and deserve their opportunity.”
The Highlanders have also elected to re-shuffle their starting 15, with All Blacks Aaron Smith, Malakai Fekitoa and Ben Smith all left out of the squad.
However Stephen Larkham isn’t resting on his laurels and believes the Highlanders will still present a real tactical threat and have a host of quality players to fill the void.
“They’re kicking very well...it’s a big part of their game, we’re aware of it, and I don’t think that will change just because those guys aren’t playing.”
“The guys who are coming in [Richard] Buckman, [Fumiaki] Tanaka and [Trent] Renata are all quality footballers who can change a game so we’re certainly focused on their kicking game as a backline, but as a forward pack we’ve got to be aware of their running talents as well,” Larkham.
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