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Valetini cleared for return to Brumbies but Ikitau ruled out after suspension

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

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Star forward Rob Valetini is clear to return to the Brumbies’ line-up for their crunch semi-final against the Blues on Saturday night.

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The Wallabies’ representative will start at No.8, in the side for a first time in a month after a hamstring injury kept him out of their quarter-final win against the Hurricanes last weekend.

But they’ll have to play without suspended centre Len Ikitau, whose red-card tackle on Hurricane Aidan Morgan earned him a three-match ban.

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SANZAAR’s Judiciary Committee said the hit merited a six-match ban but was reduced to three games because of Ikitau’s clean record.

That could even keep Wallaby Ikitau out of the first Test against England in July, although it will be the last thing on the Brumbies’ minds as they head to Auckland.

Ollie Sapsford will take his spot in the centres along with Irae Simone.

Pete Samu will shift to flanker to accommodate both Valetini and red-hot flanker Tom Hooper, while Luke Reimer will come off the bench.

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Brumbies’ coach Dan McKellar acknowledged the huge loss of Ikitau, but said it did not change his side’s firm belief it will take it up to the in-form Blues.

“It’s great to have Bobby back this week and although we’re gutted to lose Len, we’ve got full confidence in Ollie to do a job for the team in his place,” he said.

“We’re excited for this week and what will be an amazing occasion at Eden Park.

“We’re going over to Auckland with plenty of belief ahead of a huge challenge against a quality team who we have a list of respect for.”

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Brumbies team to play Blues:
1. James Slipper
2. Folau Fainga’a
3. Allan Alaalatoa
4. Darcy Swain
5. Caderyn Neville
6. Tom Hooper
7. Pete Samu
8. Rob Valetini
9. Nic White
10. Noah Lolesio
11. Andy Muirhead
12. Irae Simone
13. Ollie Sapsford
14. Tom Wright
15. Tom Banks

RESERVES: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Sefo Kautai, 19. Nick Frost, 20. Luke Reimer, 21. Jahrome Brown, 22. Ryan Lonergan, 23. Hudson Creighton

 

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