Butler starts at eight for Brumbies

Date published: February 20 2014

Jarrad Butler will start at number eight on his Brumbies debut taking on his former team mates, the Queensland Reds, on Saturday.

Jarrad Butler will start at number eight on his Brumbies debut taking on his former team mates, the Queensland Reds, for the 2014 Super Rugby season opener this Saturday night.

An age-grade superstar who represented Australia at Schools and Under 20s levels, Butler earned 12 caps for the Reds between 2012 and 2013 before making the move south over Christmas to take up a contract with the Brumbies.

From the side which contested the Super Rugby Final last August there are several changes, most notably captain Ben Mowen moving to blind-side flanker and the inclusion of Pat McCabe at inside-centre.

2013's tight five of Scott Sio, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Scott Fardy and Sam Carter remains intact, while David Pocock returns from injury at open-side flanker with Mowen and Butler filling out the back-row.

Nic White has earned first crack at the number nine jersey and will be matched in the halves by his Wallabies partner, Matt Toomua.

McCabe and Smith fill the centres, while Joe Tomane, Henry Speight (wings) and Jesse Mogg (full-back) make up the back three.

The bench is where the most changes have occurred, with Lionel Cronje (fly-half), Conrad Hoffmann (scrum-half) and Lachlan McCaffrey (back-row) all in line to make their Brumbies debuts.

They are joined by regulars Siliva Siliva, Ruan Smith, Ruaidhri Murphy, Leon Power and Tevita Kuridrani.

Head Coach Stephen Larkham said it was important to get the season off to a solid start.

“It's important to start the season well – we aren't resting on results from last year we realise this is a totally new opportunity, but winning games first up is important for confidence and rhythm, that's why teams concentrate so hard on the first round,” said Larkham.

“We did have a successful year last year, we know the formula that worked for us last year and we won't be going too far away from that this year, but in saying that we can certainly look at improving how we play out of our own half.”

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Ben Mowen (c), 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaridh Murphy, 19 Leon Power, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Conrad Hoffman, 22 Lionel Cronjé, 23 Tevita Kuridrani

Date: Saturday, February 22
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Kickoff: 19:40 (local, 08:40 GMT)
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Ian Smith (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)