Larkham shows faith in Lonergan as Brumbies, Force confirm sides for trial

Fri, Feb 9, 2024, 2:25 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Safeguard Global ACT Brumbies Head Coach Stephen Larkham spoke to media as the team prepared to depart Canberra International Airport on Friday morning.

Ryan Lonergan is set to lead the Brumbies into round one of Super Rugby Pacific as the side prepares to come up against old teammate Nic White in Saturday's pre-season trial.

Lonergan's leadership has been recognised early in his career, named captain of a star-studded Australia A side against Tonga and Portugal.

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With Allan Alaalatoa still on the mend from a knee injury, coach Stephen Larkham confirmed the 25-year-old will lead the side in their trial against the Force and is expected to retain the honour for their season opener against the Melbourne Rebels on February 23.

“Ryan’s been tremendous with his leadership within the group," Larkham told reporters.

“We’ve got a group of leaders and he’s one of them but on the field he’s one of the guys who is pushing the standards amongst the group.

“He’ll captain the team this week and most likely for round one.”

It's a huge sign of faith with Wallabies such as James Slipper, Nick Frost and Tom Wright set for their first hit out of 2024 as Larkham names a near full-strength side.

Lonergan will join Noah Lolesio in the halves, who will enter the clash full of confidence after his stint with French Top 14 side Toulon.

John Eales Medalist Rob Valetini has been rested, with Larkham expecting him to be fit for round one.

Lonergan will have to wait until round three on March 9 before facing off with former teammate and mentor Nic White.

White is continuing his recovery from minor bicep surgery in January, with Issak Fines-Leleiwasa to start alongside Ben Donaldson.

Wallaby hooker Feleti Kaitu'u comes into the starting side along with flanker Carlo Tizzano.

"We now have the opportunity to work on combinations again after last week,” Cron said.

“The boys have given us some laser focus areas, in their positions, to help progress the team. We’re looking forward to giving them another chance to play.”

FORCE (1-15): Marley Pearce, Feleti Kaitu’u, Tiann Tauakipulu, Lopeti Faifua, Tom Franklin, Michael Wells, Carlo Tizzano, Will Harris, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Ben Donaldson, Chase Tiatia, Hamish Stewart, Sam Spink, George Poolman, Max Burey;

Reserves: Albert Alcock, Charlie Hancock, Atu Moli, Regi Churchward, Tim Anstee, Ollie Callan, Titi Nofogatotoa, Ian Prior, Reesjan Pasitoa, Henry O’Donnell, Ronan Leahy

BRUMBIES (1-15): James Slipper, Lachlan Lonergan, Rhys Van Nek, Nick Frost, Lachlan Shaw, Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer, Charlie Cale, Ryan Lonergan (c), Noah Lolesio, Corey Toole, Ollie Sapsford, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright

Reserves: Billy Pollard, Blake Schoupp, Tevita Alatini, Will Sankey, Jahrome Brown, Harrison Goddard, Declan Meredith, Austin Anderson, Hudson Creighton, Rory Scott

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