The Plus500 Brumbies have secured 28 of the Super Rugby AU championship squad for the 2021 season, the highest retention of the group in a decade.
Up front, 2020 skipper Allan Alaalatoa and fellow Wallabies props James Slipper and Scott Sio will continue to be in Brumbies colours next season, as well as local products Harry Lloyd and Tom Ross.
Folau Fainga’a and Connal McInerney shared the bulk of the minutes at hooker in 2020 and will be challenged next season by local youngster Lachlan Lonergan.
Experienced lock Cadeyrn Neville recently inked a new deal at the Brumbies to stay until the end of 2022 to go with the young second row duo of Nick Frost and Darcy Swain.
The Brumbies were blessed with backrow depth this year, and that continues in 2021 with Rob Valetini, Will Miller, Pete Samu, Tom Cusack, and Jahrome Brown all returning next season.
At halfback, Nic White and Ryan Lonergan are both contracted for 2021.
Dan McKellar backed the Brumbies young playmakers in 2020 with Noah Lolesio and Bayley Kuenzle both seeing large minutes at flyhalf, Reesjan Pasitoa also making his debut in Super Rugby as an 18-year-old. All three will continue their progress in 2021.
The Brumbies had power, pace and finesse across the backline this year, and the bulk of the attacking weapons will be returning for 2021.
Irae Simone and Len Ikitau, both selected in the Wallabies squad, will again be flanked by wing threats in Andy Muirhead, Solomone Kata and Tom Wright, with Mack Hansen and Tom Banks continuing as the fullbacks.
Plus500 Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said: “It’s great for us that most of our 2020 group will be with us once again in 2021.”
“I thought we played some really good rugby at times this year and ended the season as Super Rugby AU champions which was down to a lot of effort and resilience.
“I think when you look at the age profile of the group, it’s a squad than can grow together in the coming years having already tasted some success in 2020."
Brumbies General Manager Professional Rugby & Pathways Chris Tindall said: “Having 28 of the 2020 group returning for next season and the level of continuity that brings is exciting for us.”
“There’s a great mix in the squad, young players looking to develop and establish themselves further and more experienced players who help drive the standards the coaches set, all competing to earn selection.
“With the challenges the game has faced, I think retaining 28 players from a championship winning team is something for us to be proud of and reflects the positive team culture across the group led by Dan and Allan.
"We are also well advanced in completing the rest of the squad for 2021, including promoting players from our Brumbies Academy programme."