ACT Brumbies coach Jake White has backed his untested halves combination to continue the club’s Super Rugby resurgence and record its first win in Wellington since 2003.
Rookie Zack Holmes will join Ian Prior as the Brumbies’ flyhalf-scrumhalf combination for their clash with the Wellington Hurricanes in New Zealand on Friday night.
It’s the fourth halves combination White has used this season with Christian Lealiifano and Matt Toomua out for the rest of the season and regular No9 Nic White being rotated to the bench.
Holmes won a three-way battle with Robbie Coleman and new recruit Peter Hewat to be the playmaker for the round-13 match.
He will also be the Brumbies’ goal-kicker.
Former NSW Waratahs point-scoring machine Hewat will not join the team in New Zealand after only being added to White’s squad on Sunday.
White said Holmes was the logical choice at flyhalf because he had been training in the position since July last year.
‘‘We don’t have to change anything, he understands [the job] and has been a part of the team [at flyhalf] since we trained at Narrabeen [last year],’’ White said.
‘‘The logical thing is a guy like Zack who has run a lot more with Ian Prior in the other group and it’s quite nice he gets to play with Ian as well.’’
The Brumbies are at the top of the Australian conference after an unexpected strong start to the season.
But they haven’t won three games in a row since the start of the 2010 campaign and they have struggled to win in Wellington in the past decade.
Holmes said he was excited about the challenge ahead of him.
He is in the team as a replacement for Lealiifano who broke his ankle two weeks ago and now has a chance to stake his claim for the No10 jersey for the remainder of the season.
‘‘It has come a little bit earlier than expected,’’ Holmes conceded.
‘‘The last month has been a bit tougher not being in the [game-day] 22, but that has given me some game time in club footy which has helped.
‘‘I feel like I know everything and I’m comfortable with my game so we’ll see how we go on Friday.’’
Prior and Holmes were the only changes to the Brumbies team which beat the NSW Waratahs two weeks ago.
1. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Dan Palmer, 4. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 6. Ben Mowen, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Fotu Auelua, 9. Ian Prior, 10. Zack Holmes, 11. Joseph Tomane, 12. Pat McCabe, 13. Andrew Smith, 14. Henry Speight, 15. Jesse Mogg. Reserves: 16. Anthony Hegarty, 17. Ruaidhri Murphy, 18. Peter Kimlin, 19. Ita Vaea, 20. Nic White, 21. Robbie Coleman, 22. Tevita Kuridrani.
1. Reggie Goodes, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Ben May, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Jason Eaton, 6. Brad Shields, 7. Karl Lowe, 8. Victor Vito, 9. TJ Perenara, 10. Tusi Pisi, 11. Julian Savea, 12. Tim Bateman, 13. Conrad Smith, 14. Cory Jane, 15. Andre Taylor. Reserves: 16. Motu Matu’u, 17. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18. James Broadhurst, 19. Jack Lam, 20. Chris Eaton, 21. Beauden Barrett, 22. Jayden Hayward