Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock will return in a much-needed boost for the shaken Brumbies in their Super 14 clash against the Cheetahs on Saturday.
The AAP reports that the Brumbies have had a horror run in South Africa, with the side failing to register a win in their first two matches of a three-leg tour.
Far worse, the side has also been waiting anxiously the learn the full extent of injuries to teammate Shawn Mackay who remains in a critical condition in a Durban hospital after being hit by a car in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The 26-year-old suffered a cervical spinal fracture and dislocation, a fractured skull as well as a broken leg and multiple facial fractures and lacerations in the incident.
Mortlock will again play in his preferred role of outside centre and resume his midfield partnership with Tyrone Smith.
Gene Fairbanks, who ran on at inside centre in the 35-14 loss to the Sharks in Durban last Saturday, returns to the bench.
Mortlock was ruled out against the Sharks after sustaining corks in both thighs during the side’s 25-17 loss to the Lions two weeks ago.
Brumbies coach Andy Friend said the 76-Test veteran would provide a much needed boost to the backline.
“Stirling’s a key member of the squad and we’re naturally pleased to have him back fit and ready to go,” he said.
“I thought Gene and Tyrone were very strong for us in a beaten side last week, but Stirling’s a world-class, experienced outside centre and someone you can’t afford to not have in the starting XV.”
“He provides us with a lot of leadership, experience and direction in the backline.”
Mitchell Chapman retains his starting position at blindside flanker after making a successful return from a long-term shoulder injury last weekend.
The Brumbies delayed the naming of the team following the incident involving Mackay and have named an extended bench with one player to be omitted ahead of the match in Bloemfontein on Saturday night.
Brumbies: Mark Gerrard, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Stirling Mortlock, Tyrone Smith, Clyde Rathbone, Christian Lealiifano, Joshua Holmes, Julian Salvi, George Smith (capt), Mitchell Chapman, Mark Chisholm, Ben Hand, Guy Shepherdson, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander.
Res: Huia Edmonds, Salesi Ma’afu, Sitaleki Timani, Peter Kimlin, Patrick Phibbs, Gene Fairbanks, Alfi Mafi, Francis Fainifo (one to be omitted).