Brumbies depth to get early test in Pasifika clash

Brumbies depth to get early test in Pasifika clash

The Brumbies remain warm favourites for their Super Rugby Pacific clash with Moana Pasifika, despite an early-season injury crisis that's forced the ACT outfit to shuffle the deck.

Already missing their captain and vital prop Allan Alaalatoa (Achilles), strike centre Len Ikitau (knee), pacey winger Andy Muirhead (knee) and emerging forward Blake Schoupp (shoulder) won't play in Friday's clash at GIO Stadium.

And the 3-1 side's somewhat makeshift line-up won't have it all their own way against 2-2 Moana, who are riding high after a 22-12 upset win against the Western Force last weekend.

One Brumby who's making a name for himself early in the campaign is 27-year-old prop Sefo Kautai, having churned out minutes in the front row filling the sizeable boots of Alaalatoa.

Kautai, who's parlayed his recent form into a one-year contract extension, says the injured Wallaby remains on deck to help him shape his game.

"It's been good. Little areas of my game that I need to improve he'll let me know, or I'll ask the question. He's definitely been a good help," Kautai said.

"Having Al out, I'm just doing the best I can to fill that role at tighthead. It's a hard role to fill but I'll just do the best I can.

"I'm pretty stoked to be signing on ... I'm in debt to this club for the opportunity they've given me to play at this level again, so I've got a lot left to give back.

"There's always room for improvement but just being around guys like Al and 'Slips' (prop James Slipper) has definitely helped lift my game."

Former Brumbies player and club legend Christian Leali'ifano will return to GIO Stadium with the Pasifika side, having won back his No.10 jersey and helped them roll the Force in Perth.

The ACT side will debut Harry Vella in their front row, teaming with Billy Pollard and Kautai after coach Stephen Larkham shifted Slipper and Lachie Lonergan to the bench.

With a number of players shifting positions to cover the absentees, Kautai said the team would be ready for the challenge.

"I'm sure they'll be ready, they'll be pretty excited for the challenge," he said.

"I'm doing the best I can to just do my job. So I just focus on the little things and come Friday night I'll be ready to go."

The Brumbies have won nine of their past 10 home games, which includes a 62-36 belting of Moana last year.

But Pasifika have won their past three games outside of New Zealand and are shooting for back-to-back victories in the competition for the first time.

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