Brumbies can fill Cubelli void: Smith

Super Rugby
by AAP

Brumbies Super Rugby centre Andrew Smith has backed the side's inexperienced halfbacks to fill the hole left by a potentially season-ending injury to Argentine international Tomas Cubelli.

With Cubelli set to undergo surgery on his ruptured knee tendon on Tuesday, Smith said 22-year-old Joe Powell and uncapped 18-year-old Ryan Lonergan could cover for the loss of another experienced player.

"They've been developing really well this pre-season under (Cubelli) so it's a great opportunity for them to push their case," Smith said.

With the departures of Stephen Moore, Matt Toomua, Joe Tomane and David Pocock, more than 400 Super Rugby caps left the club at the end of last season.

Christian Lealiifano is a source of inspiration for many. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyChristian Lealiifano is unlikely to take part this year with the 117-game Brumbies star recovering from a bone marrow transplant.

The new-look Brumbies were beaten 53-17 by the NSW Waratahs in a trial match on Saturday and Cubelli's knee injury added to the insult.

Smith admitted there was work to do, with their season opener against the Crusaders less than three weeks away.

"We just made a lot of errors and they capitalised on our errors, which is disappointing,"- Andrew Smith

"That was the first game for a few guys and we're still developing some combinations.

"It's just back to the training paddock and focus on the next job."

The wholesale changes to the squad will force coach Stephen Larkham to opt for an untried halves pairing.

Wharenui Hawera started at flyhalf in the trial as he pushes his case for a Super Rugby debut after being signed in January on the back of strong performances in New Zealand's provincial competition.

Ninteen-year-old Nick Jooste is also vying for the playmaker role and his long-range kicking is a major asset to his game.

Young inside centre Jordan Jackson-Hope spent time as a flyhalf in junior rugby but is not eyeing a permanent switch to No.10 at this stage.

"I guess if I was to play off the bench I could probably cover a few positions as well and be confident in my ability to do that,"- Jordan Jackson-Hope

The 20-year-old is looking to build on his 2016 when he made his debut off the bench and scored two tries in his two matches.

"I want to try and improve on that and get some more game time at this level," he said.