Nic White has shot back into the Brumbies’ starting side for the first time in five years while Hunter Paisami will return from injury to start on the bench for the Queensland Reds on Saturday.
The Brumbies’ depth and coronavirus quarantine periods meant Wallabies halfback White had to bide his time since announcing his homecoming from England’s Exeter Chiefs late last year.
But after two games off the bench the crafty No.9 will start in the top of the table, final-round Super Rugby AU clash.
The Brumbies will finish on top with the Reds second regardless of Saturday’s result, but the Melbourne Rebels can leapfrog the NSW Waratahs and grab the remaining finals position with a win over the Western Force earlier in the day.
But with at least two Tests against New Zealand slated for October, there is still plenty at stake at Suncorp Stadium.
Bullocking centre Paisami (knee) will push for a Wallabies squad berth off the bench, while Jordan Petaia comes in from the wing to the centres and prop Harry Hoopert returns to the starting side.
Chris Feauai-Sautia (calf) and JP Smith (neck) are also back from injury for the Reds while JP’s twin brother Ruan has rejoined the side after being released from his Rebels contract.
The Brumbies will go in at full strength. Wallaby pair Folau Fainga’a and Tevita Kuridrani restored in the starting line up with coach Dan McKellar keen to end the Reds’ unbeaten Super Rugby AU home run.
“It’s great to be able to recall players with so much experience into the side this week,” he said.
“Whitey has been great for the group since returning and the likes of Folau and Tev have been training really well over the past couple of weeks and have earned their place in the team.”
Reds: Jock Campbell, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Jordan Petaia, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Liam Wright, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Blyth, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Harry Hoopert. Reserves: Josh Nasser, JP Smith, Ruan Smith, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Angus Scott-Young, Moses Sorovi, Bryce Hegarty, Hunter Paisami.
Brumbies: Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead, Tevita Kuridrani, Irae Simon, Tom Wright, Bayley Kuenzle, Nic White, Pete Samu, Will Miller, Rob Valetini, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio. Reserves: Connal McInerney, James Slipper, Tom Ross, Nick Frost, Lachlan McCaffrey, Ryan Lonergan, Len Ikitau, Solomone Kata.
– Murray Wenzel
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