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Brumbies select a new captain while Jamie Roberts earns first Waratahs start

By AAP
Jamie Roberts. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

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The unbeaten Brumbies have opted to leave a host of key men in Canberra and named Ryan Lonergan as captain for Friday’s Super Rugby Pacific trip to face the Western Force in Perth.

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Five-eighth Noah Lolesio and Wallabies forwards James Slipper and Allan Alaalatoa have been rested after the side’s bruising 16-12 victory over the Queensland Reds, who they’ll play again in Brisbane next week.

That win shot them clear at the top of the ladder as the competition’s only unbeaten team, with ACT product Lonergan now charged with maintaining that record.

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He’ll start in the No.9, pushing another Wallaby Nic White to the bench, while Rod Iona will play alongside him in the No.10 and Scott Sio will join loosehead Sefo Kautai up front.

Lolesio finished the game against the Reds on the bench, but the club is confident he’ll be fit to travel north for a spicy rematch next week.

“We’ve had a squad mentality all season and we’re rotating in a few guys this week who have earned an opportunity and getting valuable recovery into a few players, particularly Allan and Slips who have put big shifts in these first five rounds,” coach Dan McKellar said.

“Seeing Ryan Lonergan lead the team out will be a proud day for everyone at the club and in ACT rugby who have watched him come through as a kid but it’s a responsibility he is more than ready for and not much will change for him.”

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Kyle Godwin, Santiago Medrano, Kane Koteka and Toni Pulu will return for the Force, who snuck home against the Fijian Drua last week.

The Waratahs will be steered by fresh-faced pair Jack Grant and Tane Edmed in the No 9 and 10 jerseys respectively, sons of former Balmain NSWRL teammates James Grant and Steve Edmed, against the Reds on Saturday.

Regular five-eighth Ben Donaldson will miss the clash with a calf injury, while Welsh international Jamie Roberts will start at inside centre with Izaia Perese (Covid-19 protocols) unavailable.

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The Reds will welcome back captain Tate McDermott from an ankle injury, while Jordan Petaia will again wear the No 15.

Coach Brad Thorn will wait on the outcome of Wednesday’s judiciary hearing, optimistic he’ll have the services of prop Taniela Tupou.

Meanwhile, hooker Zuriel Togiatama has earned his first start for Fijian Drua against the winless Melbourne Rebels, who will likely debut 19-year-old academy product Daniel Maiava from the bench on Friday.

The Drua beat the Rebels in round three and have followed that up with two tight losses to the Reds and Force.

“We’re getting more belief in what we’re doing and realising that when we play well, we’re in this competition,” Drua coach Mick Byrne said.

“Words like belief are living words – you get it by living it – and our belief is getting stronger every week so we’re delivering better.”

– Murray Wenzel

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