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Brumbies set to answer Jones' call in Christchurch

By AAP
Allan Alaalatoa with ball in hand for the Brumbies. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The in-form Brumbies have faith in their new faces as they head to Christchurch to take on the Crusaders in Super Rugby, says stand-in skipper Ryan Lonergan.

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Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has called on Australia’s Super Rugby Pacific teams to prove themselves against New Zealand opposition, but the ACT Brumbies will make their first trip across the ditch with a stack of Test players sitting out.

The in-form Brumbies take on the Crusaders looking for a fifth straight win – but with two Wallabies missing through injury and another five resting as they comply with national team load-management protocols leading up to the World Cup.

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Being rested are Tom Wright, James Slipper, Rob Valetini, Pete Samu and Nic White, while centre Len Ikitau and lock Darcy Swain are injured.

On the other side of the ledger, Wallabies prop Allan Alaalatoa returns from a concussion, while other national-team guns including five-eighth Noah Lolesio, hooker Lachie Lonergan and lock Cadeyrn Neville are all set to run out.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said the rest periods were planned prior to the season, long before Jones’ said he wanted to see Australian teams “dominate” Kiwi opponents and not be satisfied with close losses.

“When you look at our schedule, and you look at the games we’ve got coming up … we want to make sure we’ve had a really good start to the season (and) to make sure we are preparing not only for this game, but for those last three games coming into the bye as well,” he said.

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“When we just looked at it on paper, it made sense. This was the round we could rest some of our guys.

“We haven’t rested all of them, we’ve made some changes in areas we feel we’ve got really good coverage in.”

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Depth options include lock Jack Wright and back-rower Charlie Cale shifting to the run-on side after debuting last time out, while sevens star Ben O’Donnell gets his first start pairing Corey Toole on the wing.

Andy Muirhead moves to fullback, while New Zealand pair Tamati Tua and Ollie Sapsford join forces in the centres in Ikitau’s injury-enforced absence.

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Stand-in captain Ryan Lonergan remains full of belief his team can take it to the Crusaders, who have been inconsistent in a 2-2 start to the campaign.

“Lots of changes, but we’ve got the mindset of going over there and doing the job,” he said.

“The boys putting the jersey on know what their job is, and we’re looking to go over there and do that.

“You got to be physical … the best way to do that is to show up up front and then try to shut down their game that way, (get) plenty of pressure at the breakdown. We’ve got the back row to do that.”

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