Brumbies v Blues: Teams
At Canberra Stadium, Saturday July 14, kick-off 06:30 BST
Last Updated: 13/07/12 1:02pm
The Brumbies will be buoyed by the return of wing Joe Tomane and number eight Fotu Auelua for Saturday's clash with the Blues.
Both who have missed recent weeks with injury and Tomane will be a welcome addition to the backline after suffering an ankle injury in training with the Wallabies last month.
He slots back to his regular spot on the wing, moving Jesse Mogg to full-back and Robbie Coleman to the bench.
Auelua, who injured his hamstring, is also back from a three-week break and starts on the bench, with Ben Mowen assuming number eight duties.
The Brumbies, who lead the Australian conference (five points clear of the Reds) and are on the verge of making their first finals appearance since 2004, need just a bonus point to secure top spot.
And even a heavy loss would still require the Reds to score a four-try victory over the Waratahs - something they've only accomplished once in the 17-year history of Super Rugby.
"The thing we've got in our favour this week is we play first," said coach Jake White. "We don't have to worry about (other teams') results.
"Literally by the time the final whistle goes, we'll have an understanding of where we are."
Blues prop Charlie Faumuina is back to full fitness and will start for the first time since tearing his calf against the Lions in Round 12, just days before he was named in the All Blacks training squad for the Tests against Ireland.
The injury meant he played no part in the three-Test series, but after playing club rugby last week, he is ready to re-join the Blues for their final match of the season.
With Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock also suffering calf strains this season, it will be just the third time the Blues have been able to field their full-strength front row.
"It's great news for us, Charlie has been a big loss at tighthead so he's going to make a big difference and he's excited and ready to go," said Blues coach Pat Lam.
Steven Luatua has overcome a foot injury sustained against the Western Force last week and will shift from flanker to lock, but the Blues haven't quite managed to shake their injury curse with Rene Ranger missing Saturday's clash due to a groin strain.
Ranger was due to play his 50th game for the Blues, but the left wing position will now be claimed by Hadleigh Parkes.
"It's a real blow for us and he joins a long list of guys out," Lam said. "We actually have 16 guys out from our original squad so it's a big challenge going out to play the Brumbies who have proven their critics wrong, they're a good side."
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Leon Power, 19 Fotu Auelua, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Tevita Kuridrani, 22 Robbie Coleman.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Lachie Munro, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hadleigh Parkes, 10 Michael Hobbs, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Luke Braid, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Steven Luatua, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Andrew Van der Heijden, 19 Peter Saili, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Orene Ai'i, 22 Sherwin Stowers.