The Brumbies and Reds have both confirmed their line ups for the Super Rugby AU final.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has named Noah Lolesio and Joe Powell to start in the Super Rugby Grand Final against the Queensland Reds at GIO Stadium on Saturday. Meanwhile, Brad Thorn has made two changes to his starting XV that beat the Rebels in the qualifying final.
20-year-old Lolesio returns to the Brumbies starting line up after recovering from a hamstring injury in July and will be partnered by fellow Wallabies squad member Joe Powell who starts after being rested in the side's last regular fixture of the season. An all-Wallabies front row sees Scott Sio at loosehead prop alongside Folau Fainga'a at hooker and skipper Allan Alaalatoa in the tighthead prop position.
The mobile Murray Douglas returns to the starting XV and will partner with Cadeyrn Neville in the second row. Vice-captain Lachlan McCaffrey will wear the number six jersey, linking up with Will Miller and Wallabies squad member Pete Samu in the backrow.
Following his selection in his first ever national squad earlier this week, Irae Simone is selected for another start at inside centre for the Reds, with Tevita Kuridrani lining up for his 135th appearance as a Brumby at outside centre. It's a familiar sight in the back three with Andy Muirhead and Tom Wright on the wings and Tom Banks in the number 15 jersey.
Academy graduate Connal McInerney will again be relied upon as the back up hooker with James Slipper and Tom Ross the other front row replacements. First year Super Rugby lock Nick Frost and the powerful Rob Valetini are the other forward finishers. Wallabies number nine Nic White will provide energy as a replacement during the match with the versatile Bayley Kuenzle and damaging Solomone Kata rounding out the matchday 23. After being cleared of concussion, Jordan Petaia will shift to the right wing with Chris Feauai-Sautia ruled-out with a groin injury.
After being cleared of concussion, Jordan Petaia will shift to the right-wing with Chris Feauai-Sautia ruled-out with a groin injury. It sees Hunter Paisami start in the number 13 jersey and re-join his centre-pairing partner Hamish Stewart.
In the forwards, JP Smith will start at loosehead prop as Harry Hoopert drops to the bench as a finisher this weekend. There are a further two changes to the reserves with Ruan Smith back in the 23 as Queensland’s replacement tighthead prop, while utility back Jack Hardy comes into the team following the elevation of Paisami into the XV.
What the coaches said
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “Grand Final week – this is what it’s all about.
“We’re embracing the challenge ahead against a worthy opponent, whom we respect.
“Our journey to get here started back in November with our Reds to Regions trip across Queensland. We travelled around the world. We worked hard in two pre-seasons. We’ve battled through a global pandemic. Many of our guys in this group have come through our pathway and club rugby – they’ve thrived and have grown as men during this year.
“We’ve reconnected with our state. They believe in us and we want to make them proud this weekend, plus achieve something together as a group,” said Thorn.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said: "As a team we're really happy for Noah. He was playing good footy before his setback, he's done a lot of work to get himself right and trained very well over the last two weeks. We've got full confidence and belief in his ability."
"To be able to play a home Final in front of our family and our supporters is something we set out to do at the start of this competition and we can't wait for that opportunity.
"We've prepared well over the last two weeks and we know the Reds are going to be a huge challenge on Saturday night but it's one we're looking forward to."
Super Rugby AU Final line ups