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'Really important game': Key Brumbies trio out of vital Rebels clash

Noah Lolesio of the Brumbies scores a try during the round 11 Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, on May 07, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

The ACT Brumbies will look to secure a home quarter-final on Friday night without key trio Allan Alaalatoa, James Slipper and Noah Lolesio, who have all been ruled out of the clash against the Melbourne Rebels.


Captain Alaalatoa’s calf injury has him in doubt to return at all this Super Rugby Pacific season and five-eighth Lolesio is dealing with concussion symptoms, while prop Slipper will miss after welcoming his first child.

It leaves them with a makeshift front row of Fred Kaihea, Connal McInerney and Sefo Kautai, while Jack Debreczeni will partner returning Nic White in the halves.

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But all eyes are on Alaalatoa, the Wallabies gun possibly even racing the clock to be fit for the national team’s next match, a Rugby Championship clash with South Africa on July 8.

“We’re still unsure. Straight after the game he was struggling to walk which is a bad sign, but the next day he wasn’t too bad,” ACT coach Stephen Larkham said.

“We’ll get a definitive result from the scan (on Wednesday afternoon) and then again with any of these soft tissue injuries, everyone’s variable so you have to treat it day by day and see how he responds to the treatment.”

Lock Cadeyrn Neville returns from injury, having recently spent five days in hospital on an IV drip after an infection in his knee.


The eight-cap Wallaby has only played one of the Brumbies’ last six games as he looks to put himself back on Eddie Jones’ radar.


Sitting fourth, the Brumbies would need the Blues (third) to lose to the eighth-ranked Highlanders to be any chance of moving up and securing a blockbuster quarter-final against the NSW Waratahs.

Given they’ve lost two straight games, they’ll be more focused on beating the Rebels and ensuring they don’t slip outside the top four and need to travel to New Zealand in the first week of finals.

“We’ve spoken about that, it’s a really important game for us, it sets us up in terms of the finals,” Larkham said.


“We’re not thinking about the finals, but we know the importance of winning this game and getting a home quarter-final.

“(The Rebels) have got multiple threats across the park, they’re a very physical side … we expect the contact area to be a real battle.

“In our last game they had (No.8 Richard) Hardwick who was over the ball and was doing a pretty good job for them, so we know that’s going to be a real part of the game.”


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