Super Rugby preview
Smith and Speight named for Brumbies
March 7, 2013
Greg Growden and Russell Barwick with the latest from the rugby rumour mill, plus Super Rugby and Six Nations preview.%]
The return of prodigal son George Smith and winger Henry Speight are the only two changes made to the Brumbies line-up for their home Super Rugby clash with New South Wales Waratahs this Saturday.
After a week off for the Brumbies, coach Jake White aimed to list a side as close as possible to the one that convincingly beat the Rebels 30-13 in Melbourne two weeks ago.
Speight recovered from a niggling rib injury he sustained in the Brumbies' round-one win over Queensland, pushing Joe Tomane to the bench and Tevita Kuridrani out of the game-day 22. Speight's previous form against NSW last year, when he scored two tries in as many matches, helped get him the nod ahead of Tomane.
"Henry scores a lot of tries and we will need him to be at his best on Saturday night," White said. "His experience has been around for a while and he knows how important these games are to the club."
While Henry's record against the Waratahs is solid, it's nothing compared to 32-year-old Smith's, who is making his first appearance for the Brumbies since 2010. The 128-capped Super Rugby flanker has only lost once to the Waratahs - way back in 2005.
"George is a proven winner," White said. "He's won big games here in Australia and overseas so we are looking to use that experience and attitude here."
Meanwhile, Wallabies inside centre Pat McCabe has recovered from a fractured neck suffered in Australia's European Tour last year.
McCabe is listed to play at fullback against the Tongan A side at Canberra's Viking Park on Thursday night, with White saying the incumbent Wallabies centre will have to prove he can still play at the back if he wants to push his way into the match-day 22 for the South African tour starting next week.
"I'm happy with the other combinations that are working," White said. "If I do put him on the field in games, it's not always going to be in the midfield. It might be somewhere else, and he obviously has to get some game time there."
ACT Brumbies: Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight, Andrew Smith, Christian Lealiifano, Clyde Rathbone, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Ben Mowen (captain), David Pocock, Peter Kimlin, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Dan Palmer, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander. Reserves: Siliva Siliva, Scott Sio, Fotu Auelua, George Smith, Ian Prior, Robbie Coleman, Joe Tomane.