TEAM NEWS: Brumbies blow as Pocock and Alaalatoa ruled out of Waratahs clash

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has backed prop Les Leuluaialii-Makin to fill the shoes of injured Wallabies front-rower Allan Alaalatoa as his side looks to turn its season around against arch rivals the Waratahs.

McKellar confirmed Alaalatoa (wrist) and David Pocock (calf) have been sidelined by injuries, with Makin named for only the second Super Rugby start of his career.

Tom Cusack is named at seven in place of Pocock, whose stop-start season has again been halted by a calf niggle.

Lausii Taliaui returns from injury on the wing, and Irae Simone also returns at centre for Tom Wright - who drops out of the 23.

Jordan Jackson-Hope is on the bench in his first selection of the year and Gunghalin duo Tom Ross and Mack Hansen have both been named on the bench for possible Super Rugby debuts against NSW.

"They'll be a week or two," McKellar said of Pocock and Alaalatoa, refusing to speculate further on how long the pair would be sidelined.

"They're injured, so selecting them is not an option but as we've said all year, Les Makin will get an opportunity and Cusack at seven there.

"Poey (Pocock) didn't play against the Chiefs and we went all right that night, so we're confident in the guys that will step in."

 

As a Queenslander, McKellar has an inbuilt hatred of the Waratahs and anything NSW and said his team was "buzzing" ahead of Friday night's clash.

And he has backed Makin to rise to the occasion despite his inexperience in a starting role.

"One thing is Les will not die of stress, he's a pretty casual sort of guy and nothing fazes him too much, so I don't think he'll be too worried about the Tahs" McKellar said.

"He's had a really good pre-season, he's been really well managed by our (strength and conditioning) staff and completed more sessions than he had in the last four or five years and he's had some good impact off the bench."

Leuluaialii-Makin conceded two penalties last week as the Rebels ran over the top of the Brumbies to score a three-point win but McKellar has not lost belief in his ability, saying the decisions were "harsh".

"I thought in review of last week's game some of those scrum decisions were harsh," he said.

"The Rebels loosehead had his elbow clearly on the ground and Les was penalised.

"I've spoken to the referees about that but Les brings a really strong set piece and he's a powerful bugger around the field - he's got a good pick and drive, good carry and he's a good defender as well.

"It's his second start for the Brumbies and against the Waratahs at home, it's a big occasion for him and his family."Allan Alaalatoa has been cleared of major injury. Photo: Getty Images

McKellar said Alaalatoa and Pocock's enforced benching would count as games from which they were "rested" under the Wallabies policy ahead of the World Cup.

"They're injured and the agreement has always been that if you're out injured, that counts towards your rest, so we'll see where we go there," he said.

Despite the disappointing loss to the Rebels last start, McKellar said his squad was "buzzing" ahead of the Waratahs clash.

"It's the Tahs at home and an opportunity to get stuck into the New South Welshman, (why) wouldn't get you excited?

"The boys are ready to go, I'm ready to go too."

Failure to deal with momentum swings and pressure in the second half against the Rebels proved costly as the Melbourne men fought back to take their second win of the season against the Brumbies.

"That's pretty much all we reviews out of the Melbourne game," McKellar said.

"There's a lot of stats that we're in the top-two in the competition, so we're not far off.David Pocock will miss the Waratahs clash with a calf injury. Photo: Rugby AU Media/Stuart Walmsley

"We had a disappointing 40 minutes last week and got done by three points. You've got to deal with pressure and momentum swings.

"We're doing a lot of things really well, we've just got to do them for longer periods.

"If we played the game for 40 minutes, we'd be 3-1 but the game's 80 minutes and we've got to understand that.

"I know it's a cliche but when the pressure's against us or the opposition have dominant periods, we've got to knuckle down and dig in and defend our line and get possession back and allow us to play the game we want to play."

The Brumbies take on the Waratahs at GIO Stadium in Canberra on Friday, March 15, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.

TEAM

IN: Lachlan McCaffrey, Lausi Taliauli, Irae Simone, Tom Ross, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Mack Hansen

OUT: Allan Alaalatoa, David Pocock, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright, Wharenui Hawera, Chance Peni

Brumbies to face Waratahs

1. Scott Sio

2. Folau Fainga’a

3. Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin

4. Rory Arnold

5. Sam Carter

6. Rob Valetini

7. Tom Cusack

8. Lachlan Mccaffrey

9. Joe Powell

10. Christian Lealiifano

11. Lausii Taliauli

12. Irae Simone

13. Tevita Kuridrani

14. Henry Speight

15. Tom Banks

Reserves

16. Josh Mann-Rea

17. James Slipper

18. Tom Ross

19. Murray Douglas

20. Pete Samu

21. Ryan Lonergan

22. Jordan Jackson-Hope

23. Mack Hansen