Frost to No.6, Noah back for Brumbies, Aubrey starts for Reds, Pone in for Rebels by StuffsEarth

Estimated read time 43 min read

The Brumbies will be looking to push towards the top two when they host the lowly Crusaders, the Reds face the tough day time kickoff in Fiji, while the Force are in touching distance of finals footy and can take a big step against the Waratahs.

Seee all the teams and news as it unfolds below.

(All times are AEST)

Friday

Hurricanes vs Moana Pasifika, 5.05pm

Hurricanes coach Clark Laidlaw has made 11 changes to his starting line-up while giving a rest to All Blacks Jordie Barrett, TJ Perenara and Tyrel Lomax.

Captain Brad Shields, lock Justin Sangster, centre Bailyn Sullivan and wing Kini Naholo are the only starters to retain their spots after the close loss to the Blues.

Lock Ben Grant and loosehead prop Siale Lauaki earn starts in a new-look line-up where several other regulars have been rested.

Other regulars not included in the 23 are Ruben Love, Josh Moorby, Billy Proctor, Brett Cameron, Brayden Iose and Caleb Delany. Aidan Morgan will play at 10.

Jonathan Taumateine makes his first start of the season at halfback for Moana Pasifika, who have former Hurricane Julian Savea at at inside centre.

HURRICANES (1-15): Pouri Rakete-Stones, Raymond Tuputupu, Siale Lauaki, Justin Sangster, Ben Grant, Brad Shields (c), Du’Plessis Kirifi, Devan Flanders, Richard Judd, Aidan Morgan, Kini Naholo, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Bailyn Sullivan, Daniel Sinkinson, Harry Godfrey

RESERVES: James O’Reilly, Xavier Numia, Pasilio Tosi, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Peter Lakai, Jordi Viljoen, Riley Higgins, Salesi Rayasi

PASIFIKA (1-15): Abraham Pole, Samiuela Moli, Sione Mafileo, Tom Savage, Allan Craig, Jacob Norris, Sione Havili Talitui (c), Lotu Inisi, Jonathan Taumateine, William Havili, Neria Fomai, Julian Savea, Henry Taefu. Fine Inisi, Danny Toala

RESERVES: Sama Malolo, Tevita Langi, Sekope Kepu, Ola Tauelangi, Alamanda Motuga, Aisea Halo, Christian Lealiifano, Anzelo Tuitavuki

Referee: James Doleman

Assistant Referees: Jono Bredin, Fraser Hannon.

Rebels vs Chiefs, 7.35pm

The Rebels have welcomed back Brad Wilkin from injury to help stiffen their back-row stocks ahead of Friday’s tricky clash against the Chiefs in Melbourne.

But it’s not all good news, with Wallabies stars Taniela Tupou and Andrew Kellaway to miss the match.

Tupou’s absence sees Pone Fa’amausili rushed into the squad after being loaned out last week to the Waratahs, with Sam Talakai promoted at tight-head prop and will captain the team.

Jake Strachan, the versatile back, has been promoted to start in the No.15 jersey in the absence of Kellaway.

The Rebels have otherwise named a settled side for their clash against the fourth-placed Chiefs side, who have the Reds breathing down their necks.

There are a couple of changes on the bench, with Ethan Dobbins and Wallabies Matt Gibbon and Rob Leota returning.

They have their work cut out as they prepare to host the Chiefs, who welcome back some star power themselves.

Damian McKenzie (concussion), fullback Shaun Stevenson (hamstring) and Emoni Narawa (rested) return to a strong Chiefs lineup after missing the win over Moana Pasifika.

Kaylum Boshier replaces Wallace Sititi in the backrow while props Aidan Ross and George Dyer come into the front row.

Cortez Ratima returns at halfback and Etene Nanai-Seturo shifts from fullback to the left wing.

Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs . (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

REBELS (1-15): Isaac Kailea, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai (c), Tuaina Taii Tualima, Josh Canham, Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Darby Lancaster, Nick Jooste, Filipo Daugunu, Lachie Anderson, Jake Strachan

RESERVES: Ethan Dobbins, Matt Gibbon, Pone Fa’amausili, Angelo Smith, Maciu Nabolakasi, Rob Leota, Jack Maunder, Glen Vaihu

CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei’aho, George Dyer, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Tupou Vaa’i, Simon Parker, Kaylum Boshier, Luke Jacobson (c), Cortez Ratima, Damian McKenzie, Etene Nanai Seturo, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert Brown, Emoni Narawa, Shaun Stevenson

RESERVES: Bradley Slater, Jared Proffit, Reuben O’Neill, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Wallace Sititi, Xavier Roe, Josh Ioane, Rameka Poihipi

Referee: Nic Berry

Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy, George Myers.

Saturday

Fijian Drua vs Queensland Reds, 12.05pm

Les Kiss has made several changes for their tricky visit to Suva, with the experienced coach using the match to rest a few players.

With Harry Wilson out for the rest of the season, Kiss has kept it simple by promoting John Bryant from the bench to wear the No.8 jersey as one of five changes to the forward pack.

Angus Blyth’s injury has also seen Kiss recall Cormac Daly to the second-row, with the Irishman to partner Ryan Smith.

It’s a brand new front-row, with Peni Ravai and Zane Nonggorr joined by Josh Nasser who has previously played second fiddle to the rested Matt Faessler all year.

Co-captain Tate McDermott returns to the No.9 to partner Lawson Creighton in the halves, while Hunter Paisami will play inside Taj Annan after Kiss chose to give Josh Flook a breather after copping a bashing last week by Nick Jooste.

It’s also a brand new wing pairing, with Floyd Aubrey to start for the first time alongside Suliasi Vunivalu. Tim Ryan will come off the bench.

Versatile forward Seru Uru returns from a hand injury, while Joe Brial is also back on the bench.

“There’s a refresh of the pack. Someone like Matt Faessler has played a lot of very good minutes for us this season by starting every game. Josh has done a great job as a reserve and now is his time to start,” Kiss said.

“Mac Grealy and Josh Flook have both been playing really well. They have a chance to replenish.

“It’s a great opportunity for Floyd to start after some strong games for his club GPS. Likewise, Taj Annan will have the chance at outside centre.

“I’m a big believer in giving young players a go when they are good. Tim Ryan has been proving that but it’s also about managing their exposure the right way at this level. He’ll have the chance to attack this game from the bench.”

Kiss said the difficult assignment in Fiji would further test their depth.

“One of the key things I wanted to do was build depth in the squad,” he said.

“With the coaching team I have, they have done a fantastic job of skilling up the boys and getting them across all the detail this season. Overall, I feel everyone is raising their game.”

Floyd Aubrey of Queensland Reds (Photo by Brendan Hertel, QRU)
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Floyd Aubrey of Queensland Reds (Photo by Brendan Hertel, QRU)

The Drua have given a debut to Waqa Nalaga, who is straight into the run-on team at inside centre.

Prop Jone Koroiduadua returns from suspension and makes a shift to loosehead. The return of Etonia Waqa from injury is welcome news for the Drua as he slots in at blindside flanker. 

DRUA (1-15): Jone Koroiduadua, Tevita Ikanivere (c), Mesake Doge, Mesake Vocevoce, Isoa Nasilasila, Etonia Waqa, Kitione Salawa, Elia Canakaivata, Simione Kuruvoli, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Epeli Momo, Waqa Nalaga, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese

RESERVES: Mesulame Dolokoto, Emosi Tuqiri, Samu Tawake, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Vilive Miramira, Peni Matawalu, Kemu Valetini, Taniela Rakuro

REDS (1-15): Peni Ravai, Josh Nasser, Zane Nonggorr, Ryan Smith, Cormac Daly, Liam Wright (co-c), Fraser McReight, John Bryant, Tate McDermott (co-c), Lawson Creighton, Floyd Aubrey, Hunter Paisami, Taj Annan, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell

RESERVES: George Blake, Sef Fa’agase, Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, Seru Uru, Joe Brial, Kalani Thomas, James O’Connor, Tim Ryan

Referee: Angus Gardner

Assistant Referees: Matt Kellahan, Jeremy Markey.

Brumbies vs Crusaders, 2.35pm

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has welcomed back two of their best, with James Slipper and Noah Lolesio returning to the starting 15.

The duo missed the Brumbies’ 29-21 win over the Waratahs in Sydney last Saturday night.

Test lock Cadeyrn Neville also returns to the starting side and will partner Darcy Swain the second-row, with Nick Frost shifting to blindside flanker.

Frost’s move to the backrow comes after Charlie Cale came off midway through last week’s win, while Jahrome Brown also joins Rob Valetini in the backrow. Lolesio starts ahead of Jack Debreczeni at fly-half.

Fergus Burke has returned to full strength and will start at 10 for the Crusaders. Levi Aumua has had a knee niggle in recent weeks and will stay home with David Havili moving to inside centre.  Dallas McLeod, who played at No 12 last week, has been sidelined with an adductor strain.

Scott Barrett remains sidelined with a back injury so Antonio Shalfoon starts at lock alongside vice-captain Quin Strange.

Tom Christie returns to the starting XV after some time on the sidelines, while Joe Moody starts at No.1.s Ethan Blackadder is still recovering from a thigh injury and was not available.

BRUMBIES (1-15): James Slipper, Connal McInerney, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Darcy Swain, Cadeyrn Neville, Nick Frost, Jahrome Brown, Rob Valetini, Ryan Lonergan, Noah Lolesio, Ollie Sapsford, Tamati Tua, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright

RESERVES: Liam Bowron, Rhys van Nek, Sosefo Kautai, Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer, Harrison Goddard, Jack Debreczeni, Ben O’Donnell

CRUSADERS (1-15): Joe Moody, Codie Taylor (c), Fletcher Newell, Antonio Shalfoon, Quinten Strange, Cullen Grace, Tom Christie, Christian Lio-Willie, Noah Hotham, Fergus Burke, Sevu Reece, David Havili, Jone Rova, Chay Fihaki, Johnny McNicholl

RESERVES: George Bell, George Bower, Seb Calder, Jamie Hannah, Dom Gardiner, Mitch Drummond, Rivez Reihana, Macca Springer

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe

Assistant Referees: Stu Curran, Jackson Henshaw.

Blues vs Highlanders, 5.05pm

The Blues have rested three key All Blacks with Patrick Tuipulotu, Hoskins Sotutu and Mark Tele’a sitting out while Rieko Ioane is out with concussion.

Flyhalf Stephen Perofeta returns to the Blues bench after recovering from a shoulder injury. He’s joined by two potential Blues debutants with prop Mason Tupaea and outside back Kade Banks in line for their first caps.

Openside flanker Dalton Papali’i takes the captain’s armband this week forming part of a reshaped loose-forward trio with Adrian Choat elevated to start and Akira Ioane switching to No. 8.

Hooker Kurt Eklund also gets his chance to start while the young locking duo of Laghlan McWhannell and Sam Darry will partner up in the middle of the scrum.

Sam Nock will start at halfback while Corey Evans and Cole Forbes take their place at inside centre and fullback respectively.  

The Highlanders are unchanged from last week’s win over the Crusaders with Billy Harmon still sidelined due to a cut hand.  

BLUES (1-15): Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Kurt Eklund, Marcel Renata, Laghlan McWhannell, Sam Darry, Adrian Choat, Dalton Papali’i (c), Akira Ioane, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, Caleb Clarke, Corey Evans, Bryce Heem, AJ Lam, Cole Forbes

RESERVES: Soane Vikena, Mason Tupaea, Angus Ta’avao, Josh Beehre, Cameron Suafoa, Taufa Funaki, Stephen Perofeta, Kade Banks

HIGHLANDERS (1-15): Ethan de Groot (c), Henry Bell, Jermaine Ainsley, Mitch Dunshea, Fabian Holland, Oliver Haig, Sean Withy, Nikora Broughton, Folau Fakatava, Cameron Millar, Martin Bogodo, Jake Te Hiwi, Tanielu Tele’a, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

RESERVES: Jack Taylor, Ayden Johnstone, Saula Ma’u, Will Tucker, Will Stodart, James Arscott, Sam Gilbert, Finn Hurley

Referee: Paul Williams

Assistant Referees: Dan Waegna, Mike Winter.

Force vs Waratahs, 7.35pm

Force coach Simon Cron has named a settled side for Saturday’s must-win clash against the Waratahs in Perth.

After months of trying to get their best players on the field, Cron at last has most of his pack fit.

The latest inclusion is Harry Hoopert, who will play his 50th match after debuting for the club last week off the bench, at loose-head prop.

He is the only change to the pack, with rising prop Marley Pearce returning to the bench.

It’s an unchanged backline, with big-name backs Ben Donaldson and Kurtley Beale amongst five former Waratahs in the starting side.

The settled nature of the Force couldn’t contrast the many moving parts in the Waratahs’ front-row, with on-loan Argentinian prop Enrique Peiretto to start just a week after touching down in Sydney from Glasgow.

Coach Darren Coleman has however tried to keep as much stability as possible, with the prop the only change to the starting 15 from the one that went down to the Brumbies.

On the bench, Wallabies Langi Gleeson and Izaia Perese return.

Surprisingly Tane Edmed has once again been named on the bench despite Will Harrison set to leave the club at season’s end to join Kintetsu in Japan.

FORCE (1-15): Harry Hoopert, Tom Horton, Santiago Medrano, Jeremy Williams (c), Izack Rodda, Will Harris, Carlo Tizzano, Reed Prinsep, Nic White, Ben Donaldson, Chase Tiatia, Hamish Stewart, Bayley Kuenzle, George Poolman, Kurtley Beale

RESERVES: Feleti Kaitu’u, Marley Pearce, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Lopeti Faifua, Michael Wells, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Sam Spink, Henry O’Donnell

WARATAHS (1-15): Lewis Ponini, Jay Fonokalafi, Enrique Peiretto, Fergus Lee-Warner, Miles Amatosero, Lachlan Swinton, Charlie Gamble, Jed Holloway, Jake Gordon (c), Will Harrison, Dylan Pietsch, Lalakai Foketi, Joey Walton, Triston Reilly, Mark Nawaqanitawase

RESERVES: Ben Sugars, George Thorton, Brad Amituanai, Hugh Sinclair, Langi Gleeson, Jack Grant, Tane Edmed, Izaia Perese.

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