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History against Brumbies side shorn of in-form Noah Lolesio and Rob Valetini

By AAP
Rob Valetini. (Photo by Jeremy Ward/Photosport)

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As good as the Brumbies’ Super Rugby Pacific form has been this season, they’ll be defying history should they knock off the Crusaders on Friday night.

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They haven’t beaten their Christchurch-based opponents since 2009, suffering 10 losses by an average margin of 16.7 points in the meantime.

Add to that the injury-enforced absences of five-eighth Noah Lolesio (concussion) and blindside flanker Rob Valetini (hamstring) and it’s a seriously confronting task that awaits the Brumbies (10-1) at GIO Stadium.

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Wallabies halfback Nic White joins the Offload.
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Wallabies halfback Nic White joins the Offload.

But captain Allan Alaalatoa, who returns to the starting lineup, could not hide his enthusiasm speaking with reporters ahead of facing the Crusaders (8-3), who are one spot behind the second-placed Brumbies (10-1) on the ladder.

“It’s gonna be awesome,” he said. “I feel the intensity is at such a high level, for us the boys have been training at such a high intensity too, and that goes a long way to performing on the weekend.

 

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“Crusaders have been the pinnacle for a while now, I know a lot of the boys will be up for this game.”

Tom Hooper will start in the backrow in place of the red-hot Valetini, while Rodney Iona will resume at fly-half with Lolesio in concussion protocols.

Alaalatoa said the fill-ins were excited to make an impact in the absence of their star teammates.

“The boys are keen, … Hooper gets a start at No 6, and he’s been awesome for us … he’s a young leader within the team, he’s just keen to rip in as well,” he said.

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“Robbie (Valetini)has  been unreal for us … when there’s an injury it creates opporunity for others and Hoops has really taken that.

“Rodney has been really good as well, he’s been our driver in the background.”

The Cruasders were at their powerful best when smashing the Western Force by 38 points last weekend although they were beaten 24-21 bt the NSW Waratahs the game prior.

Such is their depth, they’ve recalled a whopping five All Blacks to their starting lineup in captain Scott Barrett, vice-captain Codie Taylor, George Bower, Jack Goodhue and Sevu Reece.

– Alex Mitchell

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