12 May A huge opportunity for younger players
Aquis Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham says tomorrow night’s match against the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park poses as a great opportunity for some of his younger players to impress.
With Robbie Coleman ruled out of the match with a hamstring injury, Brumbies U20s captain Jordan Jackson-Hope has been promoted to the 23-man squad that will travel to Melbourne. James Dargaville will get his first start at inside centre and Lausii Taliauli moves from the bench to the wing.
Larkham says Coleman wasn’t able to recover from hamstring stiffness that occurred after last Friday’s 23-6 win over the Bulls in time for tomorrow night’s match, but is hopeful he will return next week.
“It’s not ideal losing a player like Robbie, he’s been very good over the last couple of weeks. He’s brought energy and experience to the team,” Larkham said.
“He’s been looking to get off the wing for a while, he certainly enjoys being out there with the boys but relishes getting his hands on the ball a little bit more and that’s what 12 is enabling him to do.
“It gives an opportunity to Jordan Jackson-Hope who has trained with us since pre-Christmas and got an opportunity to play for the Australian Under-20s last week and he’s raring to go.”
Jackson-Hope could become Brumby #184 if he gets game time tomorrow night, a huge reward for a player who has risen through the junior ranks of ACT Rugby to Super Rugby.
The 20-year old, who grew up in Dickson, has trained with the squad for six months and started the Brumbies trial match against the Waratahs in Wagga Wagga in February.
“I don’t think anyone’s seen much of him but he’s been training before Christmas with us,” said Larkham.
“He’s been playing in that 12 role pre-Christmas and if he comes on the field he’ll most likely fill that role.
“He played a trial against the Waratahs and played really well in that trial. He’s excited and the team is excited because he’s such a good character around the place.”
Jackson-Hope isn’t the biggest guy only standing at 175cm but according to Larkham, what he lacks in size he makes up for in attacking ability and tenacity.
“He’s got some really good attacking skills, particularly with ball in hand he’s very good.
“Defensively he throws his body on the line, he’s not the biggest but he’ll put his body in front of anyone.”
Larkham said the backline reshuffle allows Taliauli to start his first match of the year after impressive performances in the John I Dent Cup.
“He’s come off the bench last week and had some good minutes and he’s been itching for an opportunity as well,” Larkham said.
“He’s played some club rugby for the Royals here and done a fantastic job with them and similar to Jackson-Hope he’s well respected and enjoyed by the other players on the field.”
With Henry Speight, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua and Andrew Smith all currently injured, Larkham is confident his younger players are up to the challenge.
“The beauty of this team is that we’ve been able to adapt really well to situations on and off the field,” he said.
SUPER RUGBY ROUND 12
Friday: Melbourne Rebels v Aquis Brumbies at AAMI Park, 7.45pm.
TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2.
Brumbies team: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Lausii Taliauli, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. James Dargaville, 11. Nigel Ah Wong, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Tomas Cubelli, 8. Jarrad Butler, 7. David Pocock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Scott Sio. Reserves: 16. Josh Mann-Rea, 17. Allan Alaalatoa, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Tom Staniforth, 20. Blake Enever, 21. Jordan Smiler, 22. Joe Powell, 23. Jordan Jackson-Hope.
Rebels team: 15. Mike Harris, 14. Sefa Naivalu, 13. Tamati Ellison, 12. Reece Hodge, 11. Cam Crawford, 10. Jack Debreczeni, 9. Nic Stirzaker, 8. Adam Thomson, 7. Sean McMahon, 6. Colby Faingaa, 5. Lopeti Timani, 4. Luke Jones, 3. Jamie Hagan, 2. James Hanson, 1. Toby Smith. Reserves: 16. Pat Leafa, 17. Cruze Ah Nau, 18. Tim Metcher, 19. Sam Jeffries, 20. Jordy Reid, 21. Ben Meehan, 22. Tom English, 23. Kotaro Matsushima.
By Tom Corrigan