David Pocock is still missing, but the Brumbies will have a beefed-up backrow against the Rebels on Saturday night.
Pocock will sit out his second match in a row, with a calf injury, but Rob Valetini (knee) and Lachie McCaffrey (elbow) will make their returns in the starting side.
Valetini was one of the side’s brightest hopes before suffering an injury against the Sunwolves, while McCaffrey was struck down with an elbow injury in the midst of a strong run of form.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said he wasn’t willing to throw Pocock back in the fold before he was ready/
“His calf’s not right,” he said.
“You throw him out there to play this weekend, and then you risk him not being in Africa, so just got to get him to 100 per cent and he’s not quite there.”
McCaffrey’s return has come quicker than expected, with the flanker missing just four games after a nasty elbow injury.
“I think it was just the first 48 hours trying to assess the damage,” McCaffrey said.
“Lucky there wasn’t a broken bone and not too much damage inside there. The doctors did a really good job, had a rehab plan going straight away, I was in a brace for about two weeks but as soon as I got out of that it was straight back in on the strength stuff.”
Christian Lealiifano will also be back in the fold, after a rest period, adding some extra composure to the Brumbies’ backline.
McKellar said the veteran back was full of energy after three games on the sideline.
“He’s a cool head, he’s been around, played a lot of rugby in all sorts of conditions, understands when it’s time to play footy with ball in hand and understands when it’s time not to,” he said.
“He’ll bring that calmness to a young backline.
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“Felt like it’s the ‘Bruz’ that we know, full of energy, bagging the coach, that sort of thing, it’s good to have him back.”
Andy Muirhead comes into the team to start on the wing, with Chance Peni left out, and Lausii Taliauli coming onto the bench.
Blake Enever comes onto the pine in place of rookie Darcy Swain.
The Brumbies went down to the Rebels 33-10 in Melbourne earlier this year, in a grinding contest and McCaffrey is hoping for a more open game on Saturday.
“It stung because more the game than the result,” he said.
“Very frustrating game, a lot of stoppages, with players going down every 5-10 minutes.
“A lot of niggle off the ball, just not how rugby should be played, so hopefully the ref gets a flowing game and we can go at it fairly for 80 minutes and rip into each other and whoever’s better when the final whistle goes, then good luck to them.”
The Brumbies take on the Rebels on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here
IN: Rob Valetini, Lachie McCaffrey, Blake Enever,
OUT: Chance Peni, Isi Naisarani, Darcy Swain
Brumbies to face the Rebels
1. Scott Sio
2. Folau Fainga’a
3. Allan Alaalatoa
4. Rory Arnold
5. Sam Carter
6. Lachlan McCaffrey
7. Tom Cusack
8. Rob Valetini
9. Joe Powell
10. Wharenui Hawera
11. Andy Muirhead
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Tom Banks
16. Robbie Abel
17. Faalelei Sione
18. Ben Alexander
19. Blake Enever
20. Lolo Fakaosilea
21. Matt Lucas
22. Jordan Jackson-Hope
23. Lausii Taliauli