Pocock ruled out, Cusack steps into Brumbies no.7 to play Chiefs

Super Rugby
by Iain Payten

The Brumbies will take on the Chiefs without David Pocock after the star flanker failed to recover from a head knock suffered in the opening round loss to Melbourne.

Tom Cusack replacing Pocock in the backrow was one of three changes made by Dan McKellar, with Toni Pulu (eye socket) and Henry Speight (hip) also ruled out with injury.

The two new wingers are Andy Muirhead and Chance Peni, with former NRL prospect Tom Wright named on the bench for a possible Super Rugby debut.

But McKellar has also stuck solid with James Slipper as his starting loose-head prop, ahead of the Wallabies no.1 Scott Sio, who will again come off the bench.

"We are just following medical protocols there and ensuring we do what’s best for him. It’s an important year for him and all going well he’ll be available for the Hurricanes game (in round three)," McKellar said.

"Poey is obviously a massive loss but again we are really confident in what Tommy has done in the past, in 2018. He is prepped and ready to do.

"Tom has had an outstanding pre-season and is an important player at our club. He was unlucky last week and he is our seven, as well as David Pocock. It’s a natural fit for this week."

The loss of three wingers to injury highlights neatly the need for depth in a squad, McKellar said. Pulu is not due back for six to eight weeks.

"Injuries is part of the territory we are in. We knew we would need the full squad this year and already we are down three wingers. Lausii (Tauili) is not available either.

Peni’s return is a chance for redemption after the winger copped 11 weeks of suspensions last year, for back-to-back dangerous tackles.

"There is a whole lot of energy and enthusiasm and probably a little bit of frustration there from a few months on the sideline," McKellar said.

"He is keen and ready to go, we don’t want to get him too excited too quickly but as we saw in the trial at Viking Park, you put Chance into open space he is a very good finisher.

"He has played a lot of quality games at Super Rugby level. We are fortunate, you lose three wingers and we have someone like Chance to come in. It shows the depth we have in the squad.

The Brumbies take on the Chiefs at GIO Stadium at 7.45pm on Saturday. Coverage LIVE on FoxSports and on RUGBY.com.au radio.

BRUMBIES TEAM

1. James Slipper

2. Folau Fainga’a

3. Allan Alaalatoa

4. Rory Arnold

5. Sam Carter

6. Rob Valetini

7. Tom Cusack

8. Lachlan McCaffrey

9. Joe Powell

10. Christian Lealiifano (c)

11. Andy Muirhead

12. Irae Simone

13. Tevita Kuridrani

14. Chance Peni

15. Tom Banks

REPLACEMENTS

16. Josh Mann-Rea

17. Scott Sio

18. Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin

19. Blake Enever

20. Peter Samu

21. Matt Lucas

22. Wharenui Hawera

23. Tom Wright