The Brumbies have made one enforced change to their starting line-up to play to Blues in Saturday's Super Rugby clash at Eden Park with Melbourne Rebels-bound openside flanker Colby Faingaa replacing injured Wallabies legend George Smith.
Faingaa, who joins the Rebels next season, predictably comes into the starting line-up for Smith, whose hopes of relaunching his test career against the British and Irish Lions next month were dashed by a knee in jury suffered during last weekend's Australian conference derby with the Waratahs.
Wallabies midfielder Pat McCabe also suffered a knee injury during the Brumbies 28-22 loss in Sydney and has been replaced on the bench by Clyde Rathbone, the South African-born former Australian test wing who returned to Super Rugby this year after a well-documented battle with depression.
Smith's unfortunate demise allows former Waikato loose forward Jordan Smiler to join the match-day squad for the second time this season following his debut against the Highlanders last month.
Although the Brumbies remain on top of the Australian conference and third overall despite consecutive losses to the Crusaders and Waratahs, coach Jake White said the team must lift their game in Auckland, against the side that ended their title aspirations in 2012.
Needing to win in Canberra in the final round of the regular season to make the play-offs for the first time since winning the title in 2004, the Brumbies slumped to a 30-16 defeat, a low point of White's coaching career.
"The players are aware of how important a win in Auckland is for the club heading into the tail end of the season and we will be working hard to regain some of the momentum we had in the early parts of the season," White said.
"Colby has been on the radar as one of Australia's best young talents for a couple of years now and we have full faith in him to have a big game this weekend. It's nice to be able to present him with this opportunity.
"When you look at our bench, to be bringing a guy like Clyde on is quite comforting because he has plenty of experience playing in big games against quality opposition. The Blues have been one of the standout teams in 2013 and it's a tough assignment to go over there and knock them off."
Brumbies: Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Ben Mowen (captain), Colby Faingaa, Peter Kimlin, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio. Reserves: Siliva Siliva, Ruan Smith, Fotu Auelua, Jordan Smiler, Ian Prior, Robbie Coleman, Clyde Rathbone.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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