Super Rugby preview: Australian conference leaders Brumbies face the Stormers

Last Updated: 20/03/14 11:42am

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The Brumbies will be looking to protect their hard-earned Australian conference lead when they take on the Stormers at the GIO Stadium in Canberra on Saturday.

ACT took over at the top of the conference after downing the New South Wales Waratahs at home last weekend, but they have had trouble with the Cape Town-based team in the past.

The Stormers, who have lost to the Crusaders and Chiefs on their Australasian tour, downed the Brumbies 16-3 on their last trip to Canberra three years ago.

Cape Town-raised JP Smith will make his professional starting debut against his home town.

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 blindside 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.

"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.

First start

Meanwhile, Sailosi Tagicakibau will make his first start for the Stormers.

Head coach Allister Coetzee has made five changes to his team, one of which is positional, with Gio Aplon shifting from wing to full-back as Tagicakibau starts on the left wing.

Peter Grant comes in at fly-half for Demetri Catrakilis, who drops to the bench.

Grant, who will make his 93rd appearance for the Stormers, will make his first start of 2014, whilst fit-again centre Juan de Jongh - who flew over to Sydney this week - will sit on the bench as he looks for his first taste of action this season.

Up front, fit-again tighthead prop Frans Malherbe (toe injury) takes over from Brok Harris - with the latter reverting to the bench - and Michael Rhodes (shoulder) is back in the mix as the lock replacement for De Kock Steenkamp, who flew home with a groin injury earlier this week.

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 1 JP Smith, 2 Stephen Moore, 3 Ben Alexander, 4 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 6 Jordan Smiler, 7 Jarrad Butler, 8 Ben Mowen.

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.

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Nic Groom, 1 Steven Kitshoff, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 3 Frans Malherbe, 4 Ruan Botha, 5 Michael Rhodes, 6 Deon Fourie, 7 Schalk Burger, 8 Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Juan de Jongh.

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