Australian Super Rugby Standard holders, Brumbis, Walabis Rob Valentini and Noah Lolesio have suffered an untimely double injury after being knocked out of Friday night’s marquee match with the Crusaders in Canberra.
Valentini is one of the players in competition form but Brumbera says the injured backrover has been set “for a while” after suffering a hamstring injury in last weekend’s win over the Hamilton Chiefs.
Youngster Tom Hooper will start at Blindside Flanker in the absence of Valentini.
Watch every game of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific and Shoot Shield season, ad-free, live and on-demand streaming on Stan Sport only. Sign up for your free seven day trial!
Lolesio, meanwhile, is expected to miss just one game with Rodney Iona fulfilling fifth-eighth place against the Crusaders in a fight between the second- and third-placed teams on the ladder.
On the positive side of the laser, the Brumbeys welcomed captain Alan Alalatoa at the start of the tighthead prop.
Alalatoa took the bench with captain Nick White last weekend.
Read more: Horror Miss Historic Rugby Defeats Aussies Cost
Read more: Make a phone call to Matildas coach
Read more: NFL icon Brady has signed a $ 540 million deal not to play
The Brumbeys have won three games in a row against New Zealand and Australia’s best shot to end the 2014 Super Rugby title drought.
“It’s disappointing that Noah and Rob are not available but we have supported our depth throughout the season and have full confidence in Hoops and Rodney to do a job for the team,” said Brumbis coach Dan McKeller.
“We are all excited about what should be a great competition on Friday night against a team that has long been a standard in Super Rugby among the Crusaders.”
Meanwhile, Wallabis captain Michael Hooper has been encouraged by the more competitive performances by the Australian teams in the Trans-Tasman match.
“It’s great to see these teams win,” Hooper said as he launched the Wallabies jersey for 2022.
“I’ve definitely been to camps where you’ve seen some of the Death Ride teams, especially the Aussie equivalents, and you don’t want to see them go well. I think that has definitely changed for me.”
Hooper will miss NSW’s crunch game against the Hurricanes on Saturday night as he struggles to recover from a heavy head injury.
But Waratara will welcome former Wallabies Ned Hanigan and Paddy Ryan from abroad on the bench.
“Going into such a big game and keeping those two on the bench gives us more depth and push into the back half of the game, and I’m excited to see how they go,” said Varatus coach Darren Coleman.
Further north, Queensland’s slumping campaign has received much-needed boost with five-eighth James O’Connor returning from a knee injury against the ladder-leading blues.
“We’ve lost a number of close people in the last few weeks, which is disappointing,” said Reds coach Brad Thorne.
“We will learn from those games in a tough competition this week.”
Highlander vs. Force Dunedin, Friday afternoon at 5.05 AEST
Highlanders (15-1): Connor Garden-Bachop, Fatuli Pie, Josh Timu, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Scott Gregory, Sam Gilbert, Aaron Smith (co-captain), Marino Mickel-Tuu, Billy Harmon, James Lentges (co-C), Josh Dixon, B Evans, Jermaine Ainsley, Andrew Makalio, Ethan de Groot
Reserve: Rice Marshall, Daniel Leinart-Brown, Saula Mau, Fabian Holland, Hugh Renton, Folau Fakatava, Mitch Hunt, Liam Coombs-Fabling
Force (15-1): Jack Strachan, Byron Ralston, Kyle Godwin (C), Bailey Quenzel, Mansa Matale, Risan Pasitoa, Ian Pryor, Tim Anisty, Oli Callan, Fergus Lee-Warner, Isaac Roda, Jeremy Thrash, Santiago, Santiago
Reserve: Feleti Kaitou, Bo Abra, Angus Wagner, Ryan McCully, Brinard Stander, Michael McDonald, Jack McIntyre, Richard Cahui.
BRUMBIES vs CRUSADERS in Canberra, Friday evening 7.45pm AEST.
Brumbis (15-1): Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Lane Ikitau, Ira Simon, Andy Muerhead, Rodney Iona, Nick White, Pete Samu, Jahrom Brown, Tom Hooper, Cadarin Neville, Darcy Swain, Alan Alatoa (C), Lachlan Lonargan, James
Reserve: Folau Fainga, Scott CO, Tom Ross, Nick Frost, Luke Reimer, Rory Scott, Ryan Lonergan, Oli Sapsford
Crusaders (15-1): Will Jordan, Sevu Reese, Jack Goodhu, David Haveley, George Bridge, Richie Munga, Brian Hall, Cullen Grace, Ethan Blackader, Pablo Matera, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Fletcher Neil, Cody Taylor, George Boer.
Reserve: Ricky Jackson, Finlay Bruce, Williams Boys, Liam Hallam-Eames, Tom Christie, The Turning Point, Braden Enor, Leicester
Shawn Maloney and Andrew Mehertens review the latest round of Super Rugby Pacific, the first Wallaros game in almost three years, and talk to Noah Lolesio after his exciting re-signing with Australian Rugby.
DRUA vs. MOANA PASIFIKA in Sydney, Saturday 2.35pm AEST
Pacific Ocean (TB)
‘Cirque du Soleil’ tries to make the blues shine
BLUES vs REDS in Auckland, Saturday afternoon 5.05pm AEST 7
REDS (15-1): Jock Campbell, Suliasi Vunivalu, Josh Fluk, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petia, James O’Connor, Tate McDermott (C), Ceru Uru, Angus Scott-Young, Connor West, Angus Blyth, Ryan Smith, Anna Foyer,
Reserve: Matt Fessler, Harry Huppert, Safe Fagase, Lukhan Salakaiya-Lotto, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Kalni Thomas, Hamish Stewart, Lawson Creighton
Wartahas vs Hurricanes in Sydney, Saturday evening at 6.45 AEST
Waratahs (15-1): Alex Newsom, Mark Nawakanitawase, Izaya Perese, Lalkai Fouquetty, Dylan Pitts, Ten Admed, Jake Gordon (C), Rahboni Warren-Vosayako, Charlie Gamble, Will Harris, Hugh Sinclair, Jade Hallway, Ar
Reserve: Mahe Vailanu, Te Tera Faulkner, Paddy Ryan, Ned Hanigan, Langie Gleason, Jack Grant, Ben Donaldson, Tristan Riley
The rebels stunned the Blues with a great start
Rebels vs. Chiefs in Melbourne, Sunday at 2pm AEST
Rebels (15-1): Reese Witherspoon, George Worth, Andrew Callaway, Stacey Ely, Glenn Brothers, Carter Gordon, James Tuttle, Rob Liota, Brad Wilkin, Michael Wells (C), Josh Hill, Matt Philippe, Ponne Fa’moussili, Jordan Ulysses, Matt
Reserve: James Hanson, Cameron Orr, Cabus Elf, Josh Canham, Richard Hardwick, Joe Powell, Nick Just, Lucas Ripley
To get a daily dose of the best breaking news and exclusive content from the Wide World of Sports, click here to subscribe to our newsletter!