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Brumbies start Lealiifano at 12 against Sharks

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Brumbies Super rugby head coach Dan McKellar has named a side with six changes to play the Sharks in their first home match of the season at GIO Stadium in Canberra on Saturday.

McKellar has made a three changes to the backline and three changes in the forward pack that played the Rebels in Melbourne last weekend,,

With hooker Josh Mann-Rea sidelined for a lengthy period with a bad hamstring injury, and fellow rake Robbie Abel also unavailable, there’s a Super Rugby starting debut for Folau Fainga’a who was mightily impressive when coming on as a replacement in Melbourne.

The other forward changes see Blake Enever into the starting team in place of Sam Carter, packing down at lock alongside Rory Arnold, whilst there’s a straight swap in the back row as Tom Cusack comes in for Lolo Fakaosilea who is included on a strong looking bench.

In the backs, McKellar has opted for an interesting ten-twelve combination with Wharenui Hawera selected at flyhalf and Christian Lealiifano moving to inside centre in place of Kyle Godwin.

There’s also two changes in the back three as Henry Speight is the only player from the match at AAMI Park to retain his spot. Lausii Taliauli is drafted into the left-wing position in place of Chance Peni, whilst Andrew Muirhead makes his first Super Rugby start from fullback.

Amongst the replacements, there are three more new faces from the defeat to the Rebels as Nic Mayhew returns at back-up prop in place of Faalelei Sione, with utility back James Dargaville named for the first time this season.

And we may yet see a new member of the Brumbies family with hooker Connal McInerney, who played for local club Royals in the John I Dent Cup Grand Final winning side last season, set to win his maiden Brumbies cap from the bench having played superbly well in the trial match win over the Rebels in Queanbeyan.

Brumbies

15 Andrew Muirhead, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano (captain), 11 Lausii Taliauli, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Faingaa, 1 Scott Sio

Replacements : 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Tom Banks

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