Rugby Union


Brumbies hope the original proves to be the best

The ACT Brumbies' motto for the new generation is ''back to the future'' and Jake White is putting his faith in tried and tested combinations to get them back on track on Friday night.

The Brumbies will take on the Highlanders with an almost identical starting XV to the one which lifted the club to a superb start to the season.

And while the Brumbies' form has been inconsistent in the past month, returning outside centre Andrew Smith says the back line is primed to find its attacking spark.

The Brumbies have made eight positional and personnel changes to the starting side with rookie Jordan Smiler to make his Super Rugby debut at blindside flanker.

Smith, Matt Toomua and Jesse Mogg,pictured, all return from injuries to bolster the back line.

The Brumbies scored 14 tries in their first four games, but have managed to get across the line just four times in the past three games.


Smith hasn't played since the Brumbies beat the Waratahs and had to leave the South African tour early to recover from a head knock.

He has played just 15 minutes of rugby since the Waratahs game, but is confident the back-line combinations will click immediately.

''Maybe we've gone away from our basic game structure a little bit,'' Smith said of the lack of tries.

''We need to get back to that, a few guys have been out of action and maybe that played a part.''

Mogg was in scintillating form before he injured his shoulder against the Sharks last month.

Toomua was rested against the Southern Kings last weekend to get over niggling injuries and White said the duo's return was perfect timing.

''The backs are the backs we started with at the start of the year and they're the strongest combinations we feel we have,'' White said.

''You can bank on Jesse, he's done well … He's quick and he's got a big boot, I've got no doubt the confidence he brings to the team is going to be needed this week and there's an added threat from the back.''

Smiler will get his chance to impress in the forward pack.

The former Australian and New Zealand sevens player spent last weekend running around in the Canberra club competition for Easts before winning a call-up.

While the Brumbies are trying to get their campaign back on track, the Highlanders are trying to kick-start theirs after a disastrous start to the year.

They've lost all six games despite boasting All Blacks talent throughout their squad.

The lowly-ranked Kings proved last week with their draw against the Brumbies that ladder positions mean little when the game starts.

It's the Brumbies' first clash with a New Zealand opponent this season and a win would be a massive boost heading into a derby with the Reds next weekend.

''It's a different challenge to what we're used to [against the Highlanders],'' White said.

''We learnt a lesson last weekend playing against a team who is second last on the log and ended up getting a draw.

''We have to counter the game style [the Highlanders] want to play … we have to be more accurate in terms of shutting down what Kiwi backs like to do.''


Team to play the Otago Highlanders on Friday: 1. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Dan Palmer, 4. Peter Kimlin, 5. Sam Carter, 6. Jordan Smiler, 7. George Smith, 8. Ben Mowen, 9. Nic White, 10. Matt Toomua, 11. Joseph Tomane, 12. Christian Lealiifano, 13. Andrew Smith, 14. Henry Speight, 15. Jesse Mogg. Reserves: 16. Siliva Siliva, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Fotu Auelua, 19. Colby Faingaa, 20. Ian Prior, 21. Pat McCabe, 22. Tevita Kuridrani.