Super W: Brumbies name six debutants in starting side for RugbyWA clash

Super W
by Emma Greenwood

UPDATE: Brumbies coach Adam Butt has handed the keys to the driver's seat to rising star Ella Ryan, naming the teen at flyhalf among 11 potential debutants for their opening Super W fixture of the season against RugbyWA.

Ryan, who is in her final year of school, will line up in the halves next to captain Jane Garraway at scrumhalf, as one of six debutants in the starting XV, with another five on the bench for Saturday's clash at Canberra's GIO Stadium.

Butt said despite her age, he was not wary of throwing Ryan into the deep end at the Super Rugby level.

"I don't think Ella needs too much moulding, she's got a bit of an old head on her shoulders," he said.

"She plays and she directs rugby around like she's been playing for a long time, which she has. And this level will be no different to her.

"She knows what she wants and how to get it and she'll go out and get it."

Butt expected Ryan to be targeted by RugbyWA in a game that is likely to determine which of the teams makes this year's finals.

"It's going to be tough, they're going to send a lot of traffic her way and they're going to hit her late and that's just something she's got to deal with at this level," he said.

"She'll grow into it and by the end of the competition, we'll see a whole new player."

Rugby World Cup Wallaroo Rebecca Smyth will start at blindside flanker in her first Super W fixture, joined in the backrow by fellow debutant Zali Waihape-Andrews and Emma Masi.

But the team will be without last year's Super W player of the year, Tayla Stanford, who has failed to fully recover from a knee reconstruction in time to take her place in the back row.

"Tayla's very close to playing, she's being sat out this week just as a precaution," Butt said.

"Her long-term health's our main goal. We'd love to have her on the field, everyone would but we hope to see her back next week."

Up front, Brumbies stalwart Louise Burrows will play tighthead prop, with Harriett Elleman at hooker and another new face Krystal Fyfe at loosehead.

New co-captain Michaela Leonard will partner Emily Sogal in the second row.

The backline poses plenty of threats with the experienced Sammie Wood at inside centre, with exciting young talent Pesi Palu another debutant in the 13 jersey.

Speedsters Darcy Read and newcomer Gabrielle Peterson are named on the wings, with the returning Talei Qalo Wilson to start at fullback.

Tania Afamasaga, Peta Cox and Iris Verebalavu are the front row replacements, while Grace Sullivan and Pearl Rakete complete the forward reserves.

Phoebe Loughhead, Claudia Obst and Ainsley Scrivener will provide plenty of firepower off the bench in the backs. 

Butt said the team was excited to start playing after a tough pre-season.

"We've been working really hard during the pre-season and the women just can't wait to get out there," he said.

"We've got a really good mix of youth and experience across the side with the likes of Ella in the halves and then Rebecca Smyth who has played in a Rugby World Cup.

"It's super exciting to be able to play at home in round one too and I'm sure there'll be a big crowd out there to support us and to stick around and watch the Super Rugby after."

The Brumbies take on RugbyWA at Canberra's GIO Stadium on Saturday, February 15, kicking off at 4:35pm AEDT ahead of the Brumbies Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders at 7:15pm and broadcast LIVE at RUGBY.com.au, Kayo and Fox Sports.

TEAM

Brumbies to face RugbyWA

1. Krystal Fyfe*

2. Harriet Elleman

3. Louise Burrows

4. Emily Sogal

5. Michaela Leonard (c)

6. Emma Masi

7. Rebecca Smyth*

8. Zali Waihape-Andrews*

9. Jane Garraway (c)

10. Ella Ryan*

11. Darcy Read

12. Sammie Wood

13. Pesi Palu*

14. Gabrielle Petersen*

15. Talei Qalo Wilson

Reserves

16. Tania Ofamasaga

17. Peta Cox

18. Iris Verebalavu*

19. Grace Sullivan*

20. Pearl Rakete*

21. Phoebe Loughhead*

22. Claudia Obst

23. Ainsley Scrivener*

*Denotes Super W debut