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Super Rugby trials heating up as big names return

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)

Two contenders for a plum Wallabies playmaking role will begin their campaigns this weekend in Super Rugby Pacific trial matches.


Cast aside by Eddie Jones, ACT Brumbies five-eighth Noah Lolesio is in the starting line-up for his side’s trip to Perth to take on the Western Force and will be keen to make a good first impression on new national team boss Joe Schmidt.

And Queensland young gun Tom Lynagh has beaten a back issue and will come off the bench in the Reds’ game against the NSW Waratahs in Roma.

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Lynagh is heading into his sophomore season with the Reds.

Both he and Lolesio watched on as Melbourne’s Carter Gordon and Force recruit Ben Donaldson shared the No.10 role at last year’s World Cup.

Lolesio, who has already made 20 appearances for the Wallabies, will be making his return to the Brumbies after spending the World Cup period playing with French club Toulon.

Fellow Wallabies James Skipper and Tom Wright are also set for their first trial game for the Brumbies, which is set for scorching 38C conditions in Perth.

“We had a few issues in training (on Thursday) and we made a couple of changes there, and then there’s a couple of guys who are longer-term injured who aren’t quite right for this game,” coach Stephen Larkham said.


“Outside of that, it’s certainly our strongest team.

“We had a pre-season week leading into that game (but) this week we’ve had an in-season week.”


Captain and star prop Allan Alaalatoa headlines the long-term injury list, still recovering from a ruptured achilles suffered in a Bledisloe Cup Test last July.

Former Wallaby Connal McInerney and utility back Ben O’Donnell are also out for an extended period, while Ed Kennedy (infection) and Sefo Kautai (neck) are racing the clock to be fit for round one.

Force recruit Nic White won’t yet get his first chance to take on his former side, having to sit out with a bicep injury.


Lynagh is a step ahead of James O’Connor in the race for the Reds’ five-eighth job, with the veteran still sitting out with a hamstring injury.

The Waratahs have named gun winger Mark Nawaqanitawase for his first run of the year, in what will be his final campaign for NSW before he joins NRL’s Sydney Roosters in 2025.

He will pair with fellow returning star winger Dylan Pietsch, with captain Jake Gordon also back in the side.

Melbourne will be in action the following Friday against the Fijian Drua.


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