The Brumbies have surprisingly dropped scrum-half Nic White, bringing in Michael Dowsett to face the Rebels on Saturday.
Injuries to Scott Sio, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua and James Dargaville have forced head coach Stephen Larkham to rethink selections, particularly in his backline, which remained intact for the first third of the season.
In all, the Brumbies have made five new inclusions to the starting team and two to the bench after last week’s loss to the Blues in Auckland.
At scrum-half, Michael Dowsett gets the nod to start over Test nine White, the Wallaby sliding to the bench in jersey 21.
Dowsett is joined in the starting side by Lausii Taliauli on the wing, Nigel Ah Wong at inside-centre and JP Smith at prop. Their inclusion pushes Christian Lealiifano to fly-half to cover Toomua and keeps Robbie Coleman in his usual position at fullback.
Rory Arnold returns to the starting side after recuperating from a back complaint pushing Blake Enever to the bench, while Rod Iona also receives a call up to the replacements list for the first time in 2015. In Smith’s bench spot Allan Alaalatoa fills jersey number 17.
While Smith earned several starts last season, for Dowsett, the Rebels game will be the first time Ah Wong and Taliauli have been elevated off the bench.
Dowsett said it was time for the Brumbies depth to be tested and he was confident of filling the gap this weekend.
“Over the last three years I think we’ve been able to improve the depth at the Brumbies so when injuries do come along they can be filled and we don’t miss a beat,” he explained.
“As one of the guys coming into the starting side I’m excited by the opportunity I’ve been presented. We’ve been training for this since November, so with the knowledge we’ve got under our belts there shouldn’t be any issues for us in doing our jobs.”
Dowsett arrived at the Brumbies as a big-name in the Sydney club rugby scene having scored the try of the year with Norths back in 2013. A Scots old boy, Dowsett’s move to the Capital has been highlighted by six caps in 2014 and a further three in 2015.
Brumbies: 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Lausii Taliauli, 13 Henry Speight, 12 Nigel Ah Wong, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Michael Dowsett, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 JP Smith
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Ita Vaea, 21 Jordan Smiler, 22 Nic White, 23 Rodney Iona
Date: Saturday, April 18
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19:40 local (21:40 NZST, 11:40 SAST, 09:40 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: James Leckie, Fredrico Anselmi
TMO: George Ayoub