Larkham backs lock Enever in final

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies lock Rory Arnold will be a towering absence in the Brumbies side this weekend, but coach Stephen Larkham has plenty of faith in replacement Blake Enever.

While Enever has had his own unlucky injury history, hurting his shoulder in his first start of this season, the 24-year-old was a star in a similar high-stakes situation last season.

Larkham said his performance in last year’s semi-final against the Hurricanes gave him all the confidence he needed in another knockout game.

Did the same thing last year so against the Hurricnaes in the final he got his opportunity and he was probably our man of the match. There's a lot of confidence in Blake in big games, he's a very technical player," he said.

"He works very hard for his teammates so there's full confidence in him."

Blake Enever starred in last year's losing semi. Photo :Getty ImagesArnold played through an elbow injury last weekend, but pulled up worse than expected ruling him out of the quarter-final and, if the Brumbies lose, potentially ending his Super Rugby season.

“He played about 30 minutes in the game with it last week, pushed himself quite well there but we feel he's just not right for this week,” Larkham said.

“There was too much swelling after the game and still too much pain so we'll just have to wait and see how he pulls up.”

Larkham’s other changes to the side, headlined by David Pocock’s return, are all about horses for courses.

Ben Alexander has dropped out of the matchday 23, with Les Makin coming on to the bench and Ruan Smith starting at tighthead prop, after showing impressive form at Super Rugby and club level, Larkham said.

“We just feel again looking at a bit of club rugby with Les, playing for Queanbeyan, he's been quite dynamic and that's the impact that we're looking for him to bring off the bench,” he said.

Experienced winger Robbie Coleman adds to an already very level-headed group, with the majority having been involved in Super Rugby finals at some point in their time in Canberra.

Co-captain Stephen Moore said Coleman’s return would be a boost for the team, but was quick to praise young winger James Dargaville, who has been playing in his place.

“Robbie's had his injuries this year but he's back and fully fit and played really well for Queanbeyan so he comes in off the back of some really good form,” he said.

“Dargs has been great the opportunities he's had but Robbie will do a great job for us tomorrow.

“Robbie's a senior player now in the group so he adds a bit of voice there and I know he'll go out there and do a good job.”

The Brumbies take on the Highlanders on Friday night at 6pm AEST, LIVE on FOXSPORTS 2 502.