The Safeguard Global ACT Brumbies have made four changes to their starting lineup for this Saturday’s clash against the Queensland Reds, the club’s first home game of the 2023 Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific season.
Nic White and Noah Lolesio return as the starting halves pairing for round three having guided the Brumbies home to victory in the last fortnight. White will lead the team out as captain in place of Allan Alaalatoa, with Rhys Van Nek starting at tighthead prop.
Ollie Sapsford earns a start at inside centre for the first time in Super Rugby having made his run-on debut in last season’s Semi Final.
The remainder of the starting side from the Brumbies win over the Blues in Super Round is retained, with James Slipper and Lachlan Lonergan up-front alongside Van Nek in the front row.
Nick Frost and Cadeyrn Neville combine in the second row with Rob Valetini, Rory Scott and Pete Samu in the backrow.
Outside White and Lolesio, Len Ikitau will look to continue his excellent form at outside centre, combining with Sapsford at 12.
The in-form back three of Corey Toole, Andy Muirhead and Tom Wright keep their places, with Wagga Wagga product Toole taking to GIO Stadium for the first time.
In the finishers, Connal McInerney comes in for John Ulugia, with Blake Schoupp and Tom Ross providing impact at prop.
Darcy Swain and Luke Reimer will come on at lock and backrow respectively, with the Brumbies boasting Ryan Lonergan and Jack Debreczeni as the finishing halves.
Former Australian Sevens flyer Ben O’Donnell earns a place in the Brumbies gameday 23 for the first time and will become Brumby #250 if and when he joins the action.
Safeguard Global ACT Brumbies head coach, Stephen Larkham said: “We’re pleased with the first two weeks and Saturday represents another chance to build into the season.”
“We’ve rotated quality for quality in a couple of areas and we’re confident this is the right group to perform for us on Saturday night.
“It’s a big game for our organisation, first game as the ACT Brumbies since 2004 at our home ground and we’re tracking for a big crowd so we’re ready to go.”
SAFEGUARD GLOBAL ACT BRUMBIES ROUND THREE TEAM 1. James Slipper, Queanbeyan Whites 2. Lachlan Lonergan, Tuggeranong Vikings 3. Rhys Van Nek, Uni-Norths Owls 4. Nick Frost, Queanbeyan Whites 5. Cadeyrn Neville, Uni-Norths Owls 6. Rob Valetini, Western District Lions 7. Rory Scott, Canberra Royals 8. Pete Samu, Gungahlin Eagles 9. Nic White (C), Queanbeyan Whites 10. Noah Lolesio, Tuggeranong Vikings 11. Corey Toole, Gungahlin Eagles 12. Ollie Sapsford, Uni-North Owls 13. Len Ikitau, Tuggeranong Vikings 14. Andy Muirhead, Canberra Royals 15. Tom Wright, Western District Lions REPLACEMENTS 16. Connal McInerney, Canberra Royals 17. Blake Schoupp, Gungahlin Eagles 18. Tom Ross, Gungahlin Eagles 19. Darcy Swain, Tuggeranong Vikings 20. Luke Reimer, Western District Lions 21. Ryan Lonergan, Tuggeranong Vikings 22. Jack Debreczeni, Uni-North Owls 23. Ben O'Donnell, Western District Lions