Capetonian starts for Brumbies
Cape Town-raised JP Smith will make his professional starting debut against his home town on Saturday when the loosehead prop faces the Stormers in Canberra.
An EPS story, Smith makes his way to the starting team via the Brumbies bench where he has featured alongside twin brother, Ruan, since round 2.
Scott Sio’s ankle injury has forced the first change to the Brumbies front row in 2014 and is one of four changes to the starting side which beat the Waratahs in Canberra last weekend.
Leon Power has also been forced out through injury, moving Scott Fardy back to lock and Jordan Smiler into the starting side at blind-side flanker.
Joe Tomane comes back from injury to replace Henry Speight on the wing, while Andrew Smith slides into the team at outside centre in place of Tevita Kuridrani, who has returned to Fiji for a funeral.
The bench is packed with potential debutants, as Jack Whetton (lock), Michael Dowsett (scrum-half) and Stephan van der Walt (wing) all line up to make Super Rugby debuts.
Ruaidhri Murphy has also been recalled to the Brumbies bench as cover for prop, with the rest of the 23-man squad intact from last week’s win.
“It will test our depth in the forwards this week, but you look at our reserves and they have been fantastic for us this year,” Head Coach Stephen Larkham said.
“Jarrad Butler really hasn’t missed a beat and has been a real asset to the team so far.
“Joe played on the weekend for the ACT XV and played very well so we are looking at a straight swap there. It’s good timing in terms of Henry being injured, but you never want to lose a player of Henry’s quality. We’re pretty lucky to have significant depth in that area.
“The last three years we haven’t beaten the Stormers – traditionally we find them very difficult to beat. They’ve had a tough start to the season and will be desperate for a win in Canberra to get some pay from this tour.”
The Brumbies have not defeated the Stormers since 2010 in Cape Town, with losses in Canberra (2011) and Newlands (2013) giving the visitors an historical edge to Saturday’s match. The Stormers are on the backend of a tough Australasian tour, falling to the Crusaders and Chiefs before facing the Brumbies and Reds on their way back to the Republic.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 JP Smith
Replacements:16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaidhri Murphy, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Stephan Van Der Walt, 23 Lionel Cronje.
Date: Saturday, March 22
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.40 local (08.40 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)