A Brumbies head coach Laurie Fisher has included five new faces in his 22-man squad for Saturday night's season opener against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Former Waratahs back rower Stephen Hoiles will make his first Super 14 appearance for the CA Brumbies at No.8 while Salesi Ma’afu, Richard Stanford, Tim Wright and Matt Carraro are set to make their Super Rugby debuts from the bench.
Hoiles will be joined in a mobile back row by flankers George Smith (open side) and Julian Salvi (blind side).
Fisher, who has named five forwards on his seven-man bench, says selecting a mobile back row was important to challenge the likes of Chiefs loose forwards Steven Bates, Marty Holah and Liam Messam.
“The Chiefs have a strong forward pack and they like to play the game at a good tempo,” he said. “They showed it last season and they showed it again during the Air New Zealand Cup. We know that the game will be played at pace and it’s important that we select the players who are capable of matching that pace.”
Gene Fairbanks has been selected at inside centre and will start alongside returning Wallaby team mates Stirling Mortlock, George Gregan and Mark Gerrard.
Fairbanks has recovered from a quadricep strain he sustained during training a fortnight ago that prevented him from taking part in either of the CA Brumbies’ pre-season trials against the Waratahs and the Hurricanes.
Wallaby flyhalf Stephen Larkham will miss the match following the birth of his second child. The 32-year-old’s position will be filled by former Red Julian Huxley, who makes his first Super Rugby appearance for the CA Brumbies since replacing Larkham during the 2002 Super 12 final loss to the Crusaders.
Fisher says he expects the Chiefs to play a typically physical style of rugby.
“The Chiefs play a strong driving game,” he said. “While they’ll look to play field position, they have a number of strong, direct runners who will challenge us on our tackle line.”
Scrumhalf Luke Burgess will travel with the side as 23rd man.
Investec Super 14 Week One
CA Brumbies v Chiefs
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton (NZ)
Saturday 3 February 2007
Kick-off: 7.35pm (local time) – 5.35pm (AEDST)
Player Position S14 caps S14 points
1 Nic Henderson Loosehead prop 37 0
2 Jeremy Paul Hooker 99 115
3 Guy Shepherdson Tighthead prop 33 0
4 Alister Campbell Lock 25 10
5 Mark Chisholm Lock 44 45
6 Julian Salvi Blindside Flanker 12 0
7 George Smith Openside Flanker 81 75
8 Stephen Hoiles No.8 30 10
9 George Gregan Scrumhalf 123 117
10 Julian Huxley Flyhalf 37 173
11 Mark Gerrard Wing 46 148
12 Gene Fairbanks Inside Centre 20 20
13 Stirling Mortlock Outside Centre 93 825
14 Clyde Rathbone Wing 37 80
15 Adam Ashley-Cooper Fullback 15 10
16 Saia Faingaa Reserve 4 0
17 Salesi Ma’afu Reserve 0 0
18 Adam Wallace-Harrison Reserve 18 5
19 Jone Tawake Reserve 26 5
20 Richard Stanford Reserve 0 0
21 Tim Wright Reserve 0 0
22 Matt Carraro Reserve 0 0