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Larkham makes five Brumbies changes for Highlanders

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 10: Chris Alcock of the Brumbies runs the ball during the round three Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Force at GIO Stadium on March 10, 2017 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Brumbies Super Rugby head coach Stephen Larkham has named a team with five changes to play the Highlanders at GIO Stadium on Saturday.

Larkham has recalled prop Nic Mayhew, flanker Chris Alcock and winger James Dargaville, whilst hooker Robbie Abel, in for the injured Josh Mann-Rea, and second row Blake Enever who all make their first starts of the season.

Enever comes in for Rory Arnold who drops to the bench alongside Ben Alexander and Lolo Fakaosilea from the side that defeated the Waratahs 28-12 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

Larkham opts for a 6-2 split amongst the replacements with Tom Staniforth coming in for Ben Hyne and Andrew Smith dropping out of the 23. There are also first appearances for hooker Saia Fainga’a and prop Scott Sio as the Brumbies flex their squad strength.

Mayhew and Abel line up alongside Allan Alaalatoa in the front row whilst Enever partners Sam Carter at lock. The return of Alcock means the back-row reverts to the trio that started the campaign with Scott Fardy at left flanker and Jordan Smiler at number eight, the latter winning his 50th Brumbies cap.

The backs have a more settled look with half-backs Joe Powell and Wharenui Hawera combining for the fifth straight fixture whilst the only change from the Waratahs success sees Dargaville back on the left wing in place of Nigel Ah Wong.

Henry Speight lines up on the opposite wing, having scored four tries in four matches so far in the 2017 Super Rugby competition, outside of the centre-pairing of Kyle Godwin and Tevita Kuridrani who are slowly forming into a potent combination. Aidan Toua continues at full-back.

The Brumbies meet the Highlanders for the first time since last season’s Quarter Final loss in Canberra.

Brumbies

15. Aidan Toua, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Kyle Godwin, 11. James Dargaville, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Jordan Smiler, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Blake Enever, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Robbie Abel, 1. Nic Mayhew.

Replacements 16. Saia Faingaa, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Ben Alexander, 19. Rory Arnold, 20. Tom Staniforth, 21. Lolo Fakaosilea, 22. De Wet Roos, 23. Jordan Jackson-Hope