Brumbies players Pat McCabe, Sam Carter, and David Pocock (obscured) at Queanbeyan South Primary School on Wednesday. Photo: Jay Cronan
Pat McCabe and Japan playmaker Harumichi Tatekawa will look to stake a claim for the ACT Brumbies No.12 jersey in their final pre-season trial on Friday night.
And McCabe is confident Tevita Kuridrani would be ready for their Super Rugby season opener if required, despite missing all the trial games after suspension.
McCabe played in the Brumbies' first trial, but only lasted 15 minutes against the Highlanders before he was forced off with a head knock.
He missed last weekend's trial against an ACT XV as the Brumbies exercised caution as he returned from breaking his neck for a second time.
While he wasn't sure how long he would play in Friday's trial against the ACT XV at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, McCabe was desperate to get some game time under his belt and press his claims to replace Christian Lealiifano (ankle) at inside-centre.
But he sees Tatekawa as a serious challenger.
Tatekawa has played 20 Tests for Japan and joined the Brumbies last month on the advice of former coach Eddie Jones, who takes the Japanese national team.
''I'm really excited [about playing]. Obviously it was disappointing to miss last week, but I think it was for the best and necessary precaution,'' McCabe said at Queanbeyan South Primary School.
''I've ticked all the boxes and got through a few training sessions and feel good for the weekend.
''I think [Tatekawa] has been outstanding. I guess I get my chance to push my claim and he will, too, on Friday night and we're both looking forward to it.''
Kuridrani had a breakout last year, not only establishing himself as the Brumbies' outside-centre, but also making the Wallabies.
But a five-week ban for a dangerous tackle on Ireland No.6 Peter O'Mahony not only ended his European tour but put him out of the Brumbies' trial games as well.
He'll be available for selection for the round one clash against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium on February 22.
But he'll have to hurdle Andrew Smith, who McCabe rated as one of the Brumbies' best performers - along with returning flanker David Pocock - during the trials.
''[Kuridrani's] been working really hard and doing a lot of extra fitness, so if called upon he'll be ready to go,'' McCabe said.
''It's a tough call for the coaches. Smithy's been one of the standout performers in both games for us and obviously Tevita had such a great year last year.''
Sam Carter will miss the trial with a calf strain.