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Speight to start in Brumbies Rugby season opener
The University of Canberra Brumbies have made just one change to the starting side which defeated the ACT XV last Friday night, with Henry Speight sliding onto the wing and Joe Tomane to the bench.
Speight came from the bench last week and made a positive impact against the Force in Darwin. He was the Brumbies and Australian Conference top-try scorer in 2012 and one of the club’s best finishers.
The clash with the Reds is a special match for Clyde Rathbone, who makes his return to rugby after three years out of the game to claim his 50th Brumbies Rugby cap. Lining up for their first competition games in Brumbies colours are Siliva Siliva and David Pocock.
Siliva, who has been named on the bench behind Stephen Moore, has come through a season of injuries in 2012 to be 100 per cent fit for his Super Rugby debut on Saturday night. He’s joined by his former Western Force teammate Pocock who earns his 70th Super Rugby cap as a Brumby.
White was pleased to give Siliva a chance on the bench after the former Australian Under 20’s hooker worked his way back from a tough place last year.
“[Siliva’s] waited a long time, the poor guy got two terrible knee injuries then had to wait behind Anthony Hegarty so I’m sure he’s excited and relieved to be at this point,” White said.
“I’ve seen him play before, I went to Perth when we signed him and I can say he’s a very skilful player, Siliva will fit into what we’re doing without any trouble.”
With Pocock and Rathbone both featuring for the University of Canberra Brumbies on Saturday night, White was pleased with the strength of his squad.
“This is by far the best side we can put on the field this weekend, there’s no point in playing ducks and drakes out there – this is our team, we know our job and we are looking forward to putting it into action,” he said.
“What’s nice about our team is that we finalised it a long time ago. I’m enjoying the fact that we are being talked up, particularly when you think of where we were this time last year, no-one knew what to expect from.
“There’s pressure every week – we are playing at home and that’s something you can’t take away. The way we deal with that pressure will be the difference on Saturday. I’d far rather have the pressure of being taken seriously that being underdogs all the time.
“If we are good enough to beat the Reds, who have been Australian Champions for the last two years, then we’re good enough to beat anyone.”
White held plenty of praise for his new recruit Pocock, who he rates amongst the world’s best. He said Brumbies fans would be packing the stadium on Saturday night to see their new star in actions.
“You talk about Jonah Lomu and Richie McCaw being world beaters, really you have to include David in that calibre of player. He’s a game changer, he has the ability to work a game in his favour, we saw it at the World Cup in New Zealand when he turned the game on the Springboks and kept the Wallabies in the tournament.
“That’s the sort of player I’m looking forward to having at the Brumbies.”
University of Canberra Brumbies v Reds
Canberra Stadium, Bruce
Referee: Andrew Lees
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore
3. Dan Palmer
4. Scott Fardy
5. Sam Carter
6. Peter Kimlin
7. David Pocock
8. Ben Mowen
9. Nic White
10. Matt Toomua
11. Clyde Rathbone
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Andrew Smith
14. Henry Speight
15. Jesse Mogg
16. Siliva Siliva
17. Ruaidhri Murphy
18. Colby Faingaa
19. Fotu Auelua
20. Ian Prior
21. Joseph Tomane
22. Robbie Coleman