ACT Brumbies name strong team for qualifier
Brumbies halfback Nic White has overcome a collarbone injury to return to the starting line-up for Sunday's Super Rugby qualifying final against the Cheetahs.
White makes his return alongside Brumbies veterans George Smith and Clyde Rathbone, both of whom were in the Brumbies 2004 Super Rugby title-winning team.
White's return is a huge boost for the home side, as the 23-year-old halfback was widely tipped to make the Wallabies squad to take on the British and Irish Lions until he fractured his collarbone against the Melbourne Rebels in round 17.
His return to halfback slides Ian Prior to the bench and Mark Swanepoel out of the squad.
Five-eighth Matt Toomua said it was great to have his combination with White re-instated following last week's 21-15 loss to the Western Force.
''I've played with him a lot. We have a good combination,'' Toomua said.
''Quade (Cooper) and Will (Genia) talk about how they just know what's happening with each other. We're trying to develop that and you kind of feel it out there.''
With cold, damp weather forecast for Canberra Stadium, Toomua said White's box-kicks would take a lot of kicking pressure off himself and fullback Jesse Mogg.
''If me and Jesse are in the corner, you get a lot of heat there, so for Nic to put it back there without having the pressure on us helps a lot,'' Toomua said.
''Then later on, people are second guessing whether to charge down or not.''
Rathbone has also been recalled to the starting side at the expense of Wallabies winger Joe Tomane. Brumbies coach Jake White said he was recalling 31-year-old Rathbone to the side for his finals experience.
''He gives confidence to the players around him,'' White said. ''Tevita (Kuridrani) is relatively young as an outside centre. So the more experience we have in the backs, the better.''
Tomane's relegation to the bench comes just a fortnight after playing for the Wallabies against the Lions. However, White said it had nothing to do with his form.
''Joey probably is disappointed - he'd like to be in the starting line-up,'' White said. ''We pick a team we think can win the game. There is no room for sentiment in rugby.''
The other change to the starting line-up was heavily expected, with 111-Test veteran Smith slotting in at No 7 for departing flanker Colby Faingaa.
Brumbies: Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Clyde Rathbone, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Ben Mowen (capt), George Smith, Peter Kimlin, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio Reserves: Siliva Siliva, Ruan Smith, Fotu Auelua, Colby Faingaa, Ian Prior, Andrew Smith, Joe Tomane.