Rugby Union

Brumbies re-sign Ita Vaea and Rory Arnold, David Pocock returns to starting XV

The Cinderella stories of Ita Vaea and Rory Arnold continue with two-year extensions to their ACT Brumbies contracts, but their Super Rugby fairytales are temporarily on hold due to injury and the return of flanker David Pocock.

Neither Vaea or Arnold will start against the Free State Cheetahs at Canberra Stadium on Saturday, with Vaea dropping to the bench to make way for the return of Pocock (ankle), while Arnold (back) will miss the game.

David Pocock moves to the starting side for the Brumbies.
David Pocock moves to the starting side for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images

Pocock will start at openside flanker, with Jarrad Butler shifting to No.8 and Blake Enever will come into the XV at lock.

"David Pocock will come back into the side, which is great news for Poey, but nothing too major," assistant coach Dan McKellar said.

"Obviously Tevita [Kuridrani (AC joint)] will need to be replaced as well.

"We'll look for Poey to start and Ita to come off the bench, it's certainly not a performance selection by any means.

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"We wanted to get Poey back into the team and we just feel Ita can give us real punch in that last 30 minutes.

"[Arnold] will have a spell, he's just got a little bit of a disc issue, nothing major, he'll be available the week after. Blake will come in."

Both Vaea and Arnold have exceeded all expectations this season, with one defying medical experts and the other coming from rugby obscurity to now be talked about as possible inclusions in the Wallabies squad for this year's World Cup.

Arnold's 208-centimetre frame and stunning start to his Super Rugby career has cast him as a Wallabies bolter.

But his only thought is getting back into the Brumbies line-up to play the Auckland Blues in New Zealand next weekend.

He missed the press conference announcing his re-signing to get injections in his back and will miss the Cheetahs game as well.

Arnold was on the Brumbies' radar when he was playing in South Africa's Currie Cup in 2013, but a shoulder injury ruled him out of last year.

He said the decision to re-sign was a "no brainer", but he wasn't sure how to take his name being linked with the Wallabies.

"It's my first professional season so I don't want to look too far ahead, but every kid growing up wants to represent their country," Arnold said.

"If higher honours come I'd gladly take it, but for now I'm just focused on the Brumbies and doing well for them."

Vaea was diagnosed with life-threatening blood clots on his heart in 2012 and doctors doubted he would play again.

While the 26-year-old never gave up hope, even he admitted he never imagined he'd be back playing professional rugby so soon.

Vaea was on the Wallabies' radar back in 2011 before the blood clots, when he was part of an extended training squad with flyhalf Matt Toomua.

But Vaea wasn't letting himself think beyond his Brumbies duties, where he will try to provide impact off the bench after starting the last five games.

He had no problems making way for Pocock, saying "you've got to be kidding yourself if you're not happy with David back in".

"I can't lie about it, I do pinch myself. This is quicker than I thought I'd get back," Vaea said.

"If you say to me last year, 'Am I going to play Super Rugby?' I would say to you, 'No' because I thought I'd come back next year, not this year.

"It was always on my mind, I've got to come back and have one more crack ... I'm just grateful I'm here at the Brumbies."

Vaea was expecting a physical contest from the Cheetahs, who have pushed the Brumbies in their past two visits to Canberra Stadium.

SUPER RUGBY ROUND EIGHT

Saturday: ACT Brumbies v Free State Cheetahs at Canberra Stadium, 7.40pm.

Tickets available from Ticketek.