Rathbone not in Brumbies starting team
Former Sharks player Clyde Rathbone will not be returning to his old stomping ground as a member of the Brumbies' starting team in Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against his old team.
Instead Rathbone has been dropped to the bench with Joe Tomane set to wear the No 11 jersey as one of five changes to the Brumbies side that beat the Waratahs so comprehensively in Canberra last weekend.
One of the changes sees 21 year-old loosehead Scotty Sio coming into the team for his first game as a member of the run-on team. He made his debut as a replacement against the Sharks last season.
Sio’s selection might be directed more at the goal of ensuring that the Brumbies are equipped to deal with the challenge posed by the in-form Beast Mtawarira, who is enjoying a resurgence in the Sharks jersey and has improved his fitness and condition after missing the last Springbok end-of-year tour because of a respiratory complication.
The experienced Wallaby Ben Alexander has moved to tighthead, where he plays his international rugby, and it will be his job to combat Mtawarira.
Sio will still have his hands full though, as another starting Springbok, Jannie du Plessis, plays on the tighthead side of the Sharks’ scrum.
“Scotty has been working hard on his set-piece play and on his fitness and it is nice to be handing him his first starting jersey,” said Brumbies coach Jake White.
The other Brumbies changes see Fotu Auelua coming into the side at No 8, a position vacated by skipper Ben Mowen’s shift to the blindside flank.
George Smith starts on the openside for the Brumbies after coming on as a replacement for the injured David Pocock against the Waratahs. Peter Kimlin switches to lock and Tevita Kuridrani is also a change since last week at outside centre.
The Brumbies don’t enjoy a good record against the Sharks in Durban, but White said his men are looking forward to the challenge of playing what he considers to be one of their big games in the competition.
“Durban is a place I always enjoy coming to and to come away from Durban with four points is a big challenge but one the team is comfortable with. Durban has been good to me in the past and I am hoping it will stay that way on Saturday night,” said the former Springbok coach.
BRUMBIES:15. Jesse Mogg, 14.Henry Speight, 13.Tevita Kuridrani,12. Christian Lealiifano, 11.Joe Tomane, 10.Matt Toomua, 9.Nic White, 8.Fotu Auelua,7. Ben Mowen (captain), 6.George Smith, 5.Sam Carter, 4.Peter Kimlin, 3.Benn Alexander, 2.Stephen Moore, 1.Scotty Sio.
Replacements: 16.Siliva Siliva,17. Ruaidhri Murphy, 18.Scott Fardy, 19.Colby Faingaa, 20.Ian Prior, 21.Robbie Coleman, 22.Clyde Rathbone.