The CA Brumbies have made two changes to their starting line-up for their Investec Super 14 Week Seven clash against the Sharks at Absa Stadium on Saturday, 26 March.
The Brumbies website reports that blindside flanker Mitchell Chapman makes his first appearance for 2009 after returning from off-season shoulder surgery. He will start on the side of the scrum and replace Peter Kimlin, who has been named on the bench.
Clyde Rathbone has been recalled to the starting XV on the left wing at the venue and against the side for which he made his Super Rugby debut for in 2002. Rathbone played three matches for the Natal side before linking with the CA Brumbies prior to the 2003 Super 12 season.
Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock and No.8 Julian Salvi have been named in the side after both suffered corks against the Lions.
Gene Fairbanks (neck) and Alfi Mafi (ankle) are set to make their returning from long term injuries, with Mafi in line to make his debut for the CA Brumbies after joining the side from the NSW Waratahs for the 2009 Investec Super 14 season.
CA Brumbies Head Coach Andy Friend says the return of Chapman, Fairbanks and Mafi from injury further enhances the depth within the squad.
“Mitch has been around Super 14 rugby for a long time and we don’t expect him to have any trouble in slotting straight into the starting line-up,” he said. “Like Pete [Kimlin] he gives a genuine option in the lineout and helps give some bulk to the pack against what is a very tough and physical Sharks side.
“It’s also pleasing to be able to select Gene and Alfi for the first time this season. Gene is a senior member of the side and is a player who will give plenty of direction when he’s on the field. Alfi’s shown in his two appearances for Runners, where he scored four tries, that he’s ready to return to Super 14 rugby. He’s worked his backside off to return from injury and he’s champing at the bit to get his first opportunity of the season.”
Prop Salesi Ma’afu rejoins the squad after running on against Waratahs a fortnight ago and has been included on an extended 23-man bench, with one player to be omitted prior to kick-off on Saturday.
Friend says his side will need to improve on their performance last weekend to beat the Sharks.
“We created plenty of opportunities against the Lions, our problem was in our execution and converting those opportunities into points,” he said.
“We appreciate that we can’t make that mistake against the Sharks. They’re a class outfit from one through to 22 and they’re a side who has built a great deal of success on ensuring they do the simple things very well. They’ll be fired up after a successful trip through Australia and South Africa and they’ll be looking forward to impressing their home fans in their first match back on Saturday.”
CA Brumbies v Sharks
Absa Stadium, Durban
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Kick-off: 5pm local time (2am, Sunday, 29 March – AEDST)
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore
3. Guy Shepherdson
4. Ben Hand
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Mitchell Chapman
7. George Smith (c)
8. Julian Salvi
9. Joshua Holmes
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Clyde Rathbone
12. Tyrone Smith
13. Stirling Mortlock
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper
15. Mark Gerrard
16. Huia Edmonds
17. Salesi Ma’afu
18. Shawn Mackay
19. Peter Kimlin
20. Patrick Phibbs
21. Gene Fairbanks
22. Alfi Mafi
23. Matt Toomua