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BrumbiesAllan Alaalatoa makes his 1st career start while Matt Toomua returns to the fray at No 12 when the Brumbies take on the Emirates Lions this Saturday in Johannesburg.

Needing a win to stay in finals contention, the match proves as vital in the context of both side’s seasons as the play-offs edge closer each week.

Alaalatoa has featured heavily off the bench this season and played the bulk of last week’s game at loosehead prop, but Saturday’s start provides the young prop with an opportunity to stable the scrum which was heavily penalised against the Stormers.

The pair’s inclusion pushes JP Smith and Robbie Coleman from the starting side to the replacements bench.

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Matt Toomua

Matt Toomua

Brumbies flyhalf Matt Toomua joined the Canberra-based outfit ahead of their Super Rugby clash against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg this Saturday.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Toomua arrived in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Toomua has missed the past 4 weeks with an ankle injury but is set to be injected straight into the starting side to play the Lions.

Despite an agonising 25 / 24 loss to the DHL Stormers at Newlands last weekend, the Brumbies (33 points) still hold a 1-point lead in the Australian conference ahead of the Waratahs (32 points) and the Melbourne Rebels (29 points).

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Stephen Larkham

Stephen Larkham

Steven Larkham has done his homework on the Stormers as he looks to turn the Brumbies’ season around with the clash at Newlands on Saturday, pointing out the lineout as an area of weakness.

The Brumbies and the Stormers are both coming off hard-fought derby losses which will put added pressure in the camps as they look to rectify that by preparing for their encounter in the Cape.

“It’s about focusing on your job and focusing on your game, we’ve done a fair bit of research on the Stormers and they are a dangerous outfit,” Larkham said at a press conference at their hotel in Cape Town on Tuesday.

There were 2 key areas of concern in the Stormers loss to the Cheetahs: Their lineout was poorly organised and executed, and miss-fired kicks at goal ended up costing them the game.

Since Manuel Carizza’s injury, the Stormers’ lineouts have fallen to pieces.

Ruan Botha called the shots in the set-piece on Saturday and it did not go down well, however when Eben Etzebeth was controlling the calls he did not do a much better job.

It can also partly be blamed on Bongi Mbonambi, who is no John Smit when it comes to hitting your jumpers. Scarra Ntubeni is once again, not much better in that regard.

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Nic White

Nic White

Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White has arrived in Cape Town ahead of Saturday’s clash against the DHL Stormers at Newlands.

The Brumbies flew into South Africa on Monday ready for a big week in the Cape, the Stormers preparing to right the wrongs of last week after falling to the Toyota Cheetahs.

White returns for the Stormers match this weekend after 3 weeks out, his ankle injury now firmly beaten.

He said the Stormers presented the Brumbies with a significant challenge.

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Super RugbyIt was a weekend of drama and excitement in South Africa as the DHL Stormers moved to the Top of the local Super Rugby Conference and the Emirates Lions kept alive their dream of reaching the Top 6.

The Emirates Lions beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 34 / 29 in an 8-try humdinger on Saturday afternoon to record their 6th victory of the season, making 2015 their 2nd best yet but with 6 Rounds to go.

Last year, the Emirates Lions finished with 7 wins, 2 better than their 5 from 2007, but they are on track to better their best in the coming weeks.

The Toyota Cheetahs also deserve a lot of credit for never giving up as they returned to Bloemfontein with 2 bonus points.

The 2nd local match on Saturday delivered heaps of drama and the result was in the balance right until the end, but the DHL Stormers hung on for their 2nd victory over the Vodacom Bulls this season as they won by 15 / 13.

The visitors from Pretoria scored the only try of the match when Bjorn Basson went over early in the 2nd half, but the match-clinching moment came at the death when Duane Vermeulen charged down an attempted drop-goal by Handré Pollard to lead his side to their 7th win of the season.

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Sam Carter

Sam Carter

Brumbies lock Sam Carter will miss this weekend’s clash with the Highlanders following the death of a close family friend who tragically passed away last weekend playing for the Quirindi Lions.

The Wallaby lock’s family are still based in Quirindi and he will be allowed to return home for the funeral and for as long as he needs.

“At a time like this, rugby takes a back seat. From our point of view family is extremely important,” said Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham told the Canberra Times.

“Player welfare is extremely important and it’s right for Sam and his family to be up there with the current situation.”

Blake Enever will replace Carter in the second row in Canberra.

2 South African brothers start for the Brumbies on the weekend, JP & Ruan Smith.

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HighlandersThe Highlanders have made wholesale changes to their team to face the Brumbies in Canberra this weekend.

Malakai Fekitoa, Aaron Smith and Ben Smith are all rested as part of the agreement with New Zealand Rugby to rest All Blacks ahead of the World Cup, while there are also a number of changes in the pack.

Trent Renata comes in at fullback, with Richard Buckman joining Shaun Treeby in the centres and Fumiaki Tanaka taking over scrumhalf duties.

Up front, meanwhile, Pingi Tala’apitaga and Tom Franklin bolster the tight 5, while Joe Latta and Josh Renton are set to make their Super Rugby debuts off the bench.

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Michael Cheika - Wallabies coach

Michael Cheika – Wallabies coach

The Australian conference’s struggles in Super Rugby has alarm bells ringing Down Under, where media pundits have condemned the nation’s lack of playing depth in a Rugby World Cup year.

4 Of Australia’s teams, including the reigning champion Waratahs, are mired in the bottom 6 of the 15-team southern hemisphere competition halfway through the season.

The 5th, Canberra-based Brumbies, are 2nd but battling to hold ground against New Zealand and South African rivals amid a mounting injury toll.

The conference’s solid performance last season, when the Waratahs broke through for their maiden title and the Brumbies reached the semi-finals, was hailed as a sign of the increasing depth of Australian rugby.

Those achievements have been quickly forgotten, with the Melbourne Rebels, Reds and Western Force conjuring a total of 5 wins between them from the opening 9 Rounds.

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Matt Toomua

Matt Toomua

The Brumbies are facing a test of their squad depth after their Super Rugby defeat on Friday against the Blues.

ACT and Wallaby pivot Matt Toomua has been sidelined for 4 to 6 weeks with an ankle syndesmosis injury suffered in their 14 / 16 loss the Auckland outfit.

The in-form Brumbies prop Scott Sio, who was replaced just after halftime, suffered a knee medial ligament strain.

Sio is staring down the barrel of 6 to 8 weeks out with only 9 Rounds of the Super Rugby regular season remaining.

Inside centre Christian Lealiifano is the likely candidate to take the reins at flyhalf for their upcoming fixture against the Melbourne Rebels, while South African born JP Smith is set to replace Sio at prop.

Utility back James Dargaville, who is a convert from flank to wing, is to undergo scans to identify whether he has broken bones in his foot, which could potentially result in a similar recovery period to Sio.

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The Brumbies have launched a special edition jersey to commemorate 100 years since the Anzac landing.

The Brumbies will proudly wear the jersey against the Highlanders at GIO Stadium, Canberra on 24 April, as part of the Anzac weekend celebrations.

The jersey, which features poppies on the body panels, camo and the ‘Soldier On’ logo on its back, is now on sale via the club website or at Brumbies HQ at the University of Canberra.

BrumbiesThe Brumbies have named an unchanged starting side Friday’s Super Rugby clash against the Blues having come through last week’s win over the Toyota Cheetahs unscathed.

On the bench JP Smith reclaims his spot as back-up prop with Allan Alaalatoa dropping out of the match-day 23.

Given the Blues strength up front and unpredictability in the backs, the game promises to be a massive battle which will test the Brumbies across the park.

Brumbies and Wallabies prop Scott Sio said his side would need to be on top its game to make and impact on Friday night.

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Stephen Moore

Stephen Moore

Australian veteran hooker Stephan Moore, has backed the trend of foreign league sabbaticals as a way of keeping the Wallabies’s best talent in the country.

With the Australian Rugby Union allowing some Wallabies to take overseas sabbaticals, it could see some international players enjoying an almost constant season – playing Super Rugby, then playing for Australia, then heading to a foreign league like Japan before returning for the next Super Rugby season.

The Brumbies skipper said it was then up to the player himself to ensure he is not indulging in too much rugby, running the risk of burning-out in a long-winded never-ending season.

He had confidence it was something Wallabies coach Michael Cheika would keep an eye on.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

David Pocock’s principled stand against homophobia on the field will cost him any chance of captaining Australia again, says former Wallaby Greg Martin.

Pocock’s on-field complaints to the referee led to Waratahs forward Jacques Potgieter being fined AU$ 20 000.00 for using homophobic slurs during his side’s win over the Brumbies on Sunday.

Respected rugby commentator Martin says Pocock did the right thing in speaking out but his action will split opinion in the game.

“He’ll pay for it. It will mean that he will never captain the Wallabies again,” Martin told Brisbane’s Triple M radio on Tuesday.

“What he’s done, he hasn’t fractured the game down a Waratahs-Brumbies line… It won’t be fractured down like that, but it will be fractured upon clear-thinking, modern-thinking footballers who will support David Pocock and the more old school, hard heads who will say that was a disgrace he shouldn’t have done that.

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Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani

The Brumbies have been left with a gap in the midfield following news that destructive outside centre Tevita Kuridrani will be sidelined for 2 months with a shoulder injury.

It is just the second major blow to the Brumbies’ injury list this season.

Scans suggested Kuridrani damaged his AC joint in the 13 / 28 loss to the Waratahs at the weekend.

The skilful Wallaby centre will luckily avoid surgery and that could mark an earlier return to the field if his rehabilitation goes well.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

Allegations of homophobic slurs marred a resounding return to form for defending champions the Waratahs, who delivered a 28 / 13 win over arch rivals the Brumbies in Sydney on Sunday.

It is understood a NSW forward will be investigated for allegedly using the word “faggot” when addressing two different Brumbies players in the second half of the blockbuster derby at Allianz Stadium. The Brumbies made a formal complaint after the match.

Brumbies flanker David Pocock took the allegation to referee Craig Joubert in the 67th minute as his side trailed by 10 points, and made his concerns known again in the 72nd minute. Joubert said he did not hear the remarks – allegedly made at scrum time – but asked NSW captain Michael Hooper to have a word to his forwards.

“I’m getting some pretty aggressive comments coming from your guys – that there are homophobic slurs,” Joubert said. Hooper replied: “We’re not into that”.

But that did little to satisfy Pocock, who is a vocal supporter for same sex marriage rights.

“You heard that sir … you can’t say that, there could be gay players out there.” Pocock continued: “That’s fine, but after that their captain said: ‘That’s rugby’. That’s not right.”

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David Pocock

David Pocock

Wallabies flank David Pocock will return via the Brumbies bench this Sunday when the team travels to Sydney to take on the Waratahs.

Pocock hasn’t featured for the Brumbies since Round 1, but the former Wallabies and Brumbies captain has successfully rehabbed a syndesmosis injury and is the only change in a 23 man-squad named to tackle the reigning champs.

For the 3rd-straight week the Brumbies have named an unchanged starting side.

Head coach Stephen Larkham’s backline has remained consistent since Round 1 and Captain Stephen Moore is back in the driver’s seat for his 3rd straight game as skipper.

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WaratahsThe Waratahs team to take on the Brumbies at Allianz Stadium this Sunday has been named, with 3 changes from last week’s team.

Taqele Naiyaravoro and Tolu Latu have been brought into the starting side, while Hugh Roach has been named on the bench for the first time in 2015.

Tatafu Polota-Nau misses out through injury, hence Latu’s starting spot, while Naiyaravoro comes in for Peter Betham.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

Wallaby and Waratahs coach Michael Cheika is backing the Waratahs to upset the Brumbies, but he acknowledged that on current form the men from Canberra are Australia’s best team.

Cheika, who is carefully juggling his Waratahs and Wallaby coaching jobs in the lead-up to the World Cup, said the Waratahs are close to reproducing the championship-winning form that saw them claim their first Super Rugby title in 2014.

Speaking ahead of the much-anticipated all-Australian derby – Waratahs versus Brumbies in Sydney on Sunday – Cheika said he is confident the Tahs will turn around a season that could spin out of control if they lose this week again.

With just 2 wins from 4 starts, the Waratahs are hovering in mid-table – already 10 points behind the table-topping Brumbies, albeit just a point outside a Top 6 spot.

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Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani

Wallabies and Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani has signed a 2-year contract extension with Australian Rugby that will take him through until the end of the 2017 season.

Kuridrani joins Wallabies Nick Phipps, Sean McMahon, Rob Horne, Sam Carter and Scott Fardy who have committed to the Australian Rugby Union in recent months.

The 23-year-old has quickly established himself as one of the Wallabies rising stars since his maiden Test campaign in 2013, where he has since worn the gold jersey 20 times scoring 4 tries.

Kuridrani is highly respected amongst his peers, having polled strongly with 202 votes in the John Eales medal in his last international season.

However, the Fijian-born flyer still feels the need to improve as a player.

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RedsBrumbiesReds (0) 0 / 29 (10) Brumbies (Final Score)

The Reds and Brumbies did battle in Super Rugby at

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane at 10:40 SA Time (18:40 Brisbane Time, 19:40 AEDT, 08:40 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 on TV in SA.

*******************

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Ita Vaea

Ita Vaea

Ita Vaea will complete a remarkable and dramatic comeback from a serious heart condition to start for the Brumbies for the first time since 2012.

Jarrad Butler moves to openside flank this Friday when the Brumbies travel to New Zealand’s north island to face the Chiefs.

A syndesmosis injury to David Pocock forced the change, with Vaea featuring at No 8 and in the starting side for the first time in 2 years.

The last time Vaea started for the Brumbies was under Jake White in 2012 and the Tongan powerhouse hasn’t featured at the back of the scrum since 2011.

Vaea has battled a serious heart condition for more than 2 years, with last week’s 30-minute effort against the Reds his 1st Super Rugby time since coming from the bench to beat the Waratahs in Sydney back in Round 15 of 2012.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

David Pocock will not be available for selection this Friday after receiving a grade-one syndesmosis to his ankle during Friday’s win over the Reds in Canberra.

Pocock did not train with the main squad on Monday. He said it was now a matter of getting his ankle right for a quick return to the field.

“Obviously it’s a disappointing outcome and not what I wanted, having spent a long time out. But it’s treatable and I know I’m in good hands here with the Brumbies medical team,” Pocock said.

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BrumbiesThree Super Rugby debutants have been named in the Brumbies 23-man squad which will take on the Reds on Friday in Canberra.

Rory Arnold (lock), James Dargaville (wing – bench) and Lausii Taliauli (outside backs – bench) have all registered selections. The trio will join three other big names returning from injury, with David Pocock set to captain the side while Club Captain Stephen Moore and Ita Vaea will also feature on the bench.

Pocock and Moore’s high-profile injury lay-offs due to knee reconstructions are over, while Vaea’s 2-year battle with a heart condition has also been put to bed.

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