24 Jan Plus500 BRUMBIES NAME REBELS TRIAL SQUAD
Plus500 Brumbies Head Coach Dan McKellar has named a strong side to take on the Melbourne Rebels at Viking Park this Saturday for what is our first trial of the 2019 season.
In what is expected to be a carnival atmosphere in Erindale, with our Wallabies contingent milling about the ground amongst the activity, the Brumbies take on a strong Melbourne squad looking to set a benchmark for the season to come.
Indeed, with the Rebels travelling back to Canberra for Round One on Friday 15 February, this Saturday’s contest is expected to have a little more intensity than your average exhibition.
80-cap Wallaby prop, James Slipper will start at loosehead prop forming a fierce looking front row with Josh Mann-Rea and Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin.
Darcy Swain and Blake Enever complete the initial tight-five selection, a Lock pairing which is likely to get through a mountain of work around the park with both well capable of covering blindside.
That honour goes to Rob Valetini, who makes his return to Brumbies action following a stint with the Wallabies on their Spring Tour as a development player. Tom Cusack and Lachlan McCaffrey round out the backrow, with McCaffrey being handed the captaincy duty to start the clash.
There’s a familiar look to the halfback pairing with Joe Powell and Wharenui Hawera renewing their partnership that had plenty of attacking potency in 2018. Outside them serving as second playmaker is Irae Simone, wearing 12 in his first game as a Brumby.
Simone will look to build some rapport with Tevita Kuridrani who starts at outside centre, the Wallabies bruiser having recovered from an injury which saw him sidelined while the Wallabies went to Europe.
On the wing, Lausii Taliauli gets his chance to stake a claim for more minutes out wide after what was a reasonably prosperous 2018. His play for the Canberra Vikings in the National Rugby Championship certainly turned some heads, putting his hand up for a starting berth amongst a wing-group which has real-depth for the Brumbies this year.
On the opposite flank, Brumbies fans will get their first look at Toni Pulu, as the former Chiefs speedster begins his journey in Australian Rugby. Completing the starting XV at fullback is Jordan Jackson-Hope, who was the standout player for the Vikings last year.
Amongst the replacements, Murray Douglas, Tom Wright, Vunipola Fifita, Bayley Kuenzle and Jahrome Brown are all expected to don the famous Brumbies colours for the first time.
Academy graduates Tom Ross and Len Ikitau should get their first taste of senior football since signing their maiden Super Rugby contracts in the offseason while several other youngsters could make the step up should they be required.
Make sure you get down to the ground nice and early to enjoy the full range of fun family activities. Thong throwing contests, a fancy-dress contest, backyard cricket and your favourite Brumbies manning the BBQ.
Most importantly, entry is free for all, so get down to Viking Park, Saturday 26 January, and cheer on the boys as we start off the new season, taking on our round one opponent, the Melbourne Rebels.
- James SLIPPER, 2. Josh MANN-REA, 3. Leslie LEULUAIALII-MAKIN, 4. Darcy SWAIN, 5. Blake ENEVER, 6. Rob VALETINI, 7. Tom CUSACK, 8. Lachlan MCCAFFREY, 9. Joe POWELL, 10. Wharenui HAWERA, 11. Lausii TALIAULI, 12. Irae SIMONE, 13. Tevita KURIDRANI, 14. Toni PULU, 15. Jordan JACKSON-HOPE
Forwards: Jahrome BROWN, Sam CARTER, Murray DOUGLAS, Vunipola FIFITA, Connal MCINERNEY, Lachlan OSBORNE, Tom ROSS, Angus WAGNER
Backs: Mack HANSEN, Len IKITAU, Bayley KUENZLE, Ryan LONERGAN, Noah LOLESIO, Matt LUCAS, Andy MUIRHEAD, Chance PENI, Tom WRIGHT