Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham has made two changes to his starting XV for Friday’s clash with the Hurricanes Napier.
Hooker Josh Mann-Rea has sufficiently recovered from a knee injury to reclaim the number two jersey from Robbie Abel, whilst left winger James Dargaville is back in the run-on team in place of Tom Banks.
Mann-Rea last featured against the Waratahs in the 28-12 win at Allianz Stadium in Sydney and will play in his 50th Super Rugby match. Dargaville meanwhile will make his fifth start of the campaign having scored a try off the bench against the Reds in Round 7.
Abel is named amongst the replacements, where there is also a recall for back-rower Lola Fakaosilea in place of Tom Staniforth with Larkham going to a 5-3 split on the bench as Nigel Ah Wong comes back into contention.
The Brumbies come into the match having a good overall record against the Hurricanes, including the remarkable 52-10 thrashing of the New Zealanders to open the 2016 season. The ‘Canes, of course, went on to claim the title.
Centre Tevita Kuridrani, who crossed for a try in that rout of the Hurricanes, will team up alongside Andrew Smith in the heart of the Brumbies midfield with leading try-scorer Henry Speight, who has six for the season, playing on the opposite wing to Dargaville.
Up front, apart from the recalled Mann-Rea, it’s a settled unit with Wallaby props Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa providing ballast in the front-row in front of skipper Sam Carter and Rory Arnold in the second-row. Jarrad Butler, Scott Fardy and Chris Alcock provide the rest of the pack.
Hamilton-born Wharenui Hawera returns to the country of his birth as the Brumbies chief playmaker looking to add to his season tally of 54 points.
Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (captain), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 De Wet Roos, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Nigel Ah Wong
Date: Friday, April 21
Venue: McLean Park, Napier
Kick-off: 19.35 local (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)