Wallabies great George Gregan says veteran scrumhalf Nic White could hold the key to Super Rugby AU glory as a trio of Wallabies hopefuls go head to head in the grand final.
White will come off the bench for the ACT Brumbies with Joe Powell to start in the No. 9 jersey against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
It leaves Powell to lock horns with Reds scrumhalf Tate McDermott as the trio vie for a Wallabies starting jersey for next month's Bledisloe Cup opener.
Powell's injection into the starting line-up will be a boost for a Brumbies outfit welcoming Noah Lolesio back into the XV for his first match in two months, with White trusted to bring a spark late in the piece to get the hosts over the line.
White, Powell and McDermott have all been named in Dave Rennie's Wallabies squad. So too Lolesio and his Reds counterpart James O'Connor.
MORE BRUMBIES NEWS
- 'An incredible sacrifice': Meet the people behind coach Dan McKellar
- 'It has opened my eyes': Why Folau Fainga'a is determined to shine
- Centre of attention: Tevita Kuridrani eyes Reds rival
- 'The belief is there': Noah Lolesio called in for first game in two months
- The front-row unit determined to set the tone in search of success
It makes the grand final a chance for all five to press their claims for a call-up to face the All Blacks in search of a drought-breaking win across the Tasman.
"Someone like Whitey, it's not so long ago he was an uncapped guy, an up and comer," Gregan said.
"Now he has played World Cups, he has played in France and the UK, he is so appreciative to be back. He's a really well-rounded player, he is always enthusiastic and super competitive. It's always great to have players like that here playing in the country.
"Tate is a young player who has got a really good running game, really good skills, good awareness and he is playing very confidently. Whitey is super competitive, like most people who have that number of their back.
"Joey Powell is a wonderful player too, he brings lots of energy, he works really hard and he is really well respected by his teammates.
"You don't lose anything, they've definitely got a next person up mentality at the Brumbies, and it's the same with the Reds. Whoever fills the role does the job, that's how they train and that's how they compete.
"That's been positive, and No. 9 has been a good example of that for the Brumbies. You always want quality players in your squad and that's what Nic is, and that's what Joey is."
SUPER RUGBY AU GRAND FINAL
Saturday: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm.
Brumbies squad: 1. Scott Sio, 2. Folau Fainga'a, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Murray Douglas, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Lachlan McCaffrey, 7. Will Miller, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Tom Wright, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Andy Muirhead, 15. Tom Banks. Replacements: 16. Connal McInerney, 17. James Slipper, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Nick Frost, 20. Rob Valetini, 21. Nic White, 22. Bayley Kuenzle, 23. Solomone Kata.
Reds squad: 1. JP Smith, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Angus Blyth, 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6. Liam Wright (c), 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. James O'Connor, 11. Filipo Daugunu, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Hunter Paisami, 14. Jordan Petaia, 15. Jock Campbell. Replacements: 16. Josh Nasser, 17. Harry Hoopert, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20. Angus Scott-Young, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Bryce Hegarty, 23. Jack Hardy.