Dan McKellar knows exactly what he is going to get from Connal McInerney and it's "not a rocks and diamonds player".
Which is why the ACT Brumbies coach has no qualms about injecting McInerney into his starting line-up for a Super Rugby AU showdown with the NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
Folau Fainga'a has been ruled out with a toe injury but is expected to be in the reckoning for next week's clash with Melbourne.
His absence leaves McInerney to pack down alongside captain Alaan Alaalatoa and James Slipper in the front row, while emerging hooker Lachlan Lonergan comes onto the bench.
They mark the only changes to McKellar's outfit with prop Scott Sio and winger Solomone Kata likely to return to action via the Brumbies Runners this week.
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McInerney is poised to play a key role as the Brumbies look to their forward pack to set the tone.
"He's not a rocks and diamonds player," McKellar said.
"He's always very consistent, we know what we're going to get with Con and that's good set piece, repeat efforts and physicality. He brings all of those things.
"He's very comfortable now, he's played a lot of Super Rugby now and he is pushing Folau every week to start. It's his opportunity."
McInerney's chance comes against a Waratahs outfit desperate to bounce back after a 34-point drubbing in Brisbane last week.
New captain Alex Newsome will fill the void left by suspended Izaia Perese at outside centre, while Tepai Moeroa replaces injured inside centre Joey Walton.
Jack Grant has been named at scrumhalf in the absence of regular skipper Jake Gordon, while Lachie Swinton returns from suspension in a major boost for what McKellar expects will be a "fired up" NSW outfit.
"It's good to get another opportunity to start and get some more minutes under my belt. It's also a good opportunity for Lachie Lonergan," McInerney said.
"He has had a really good pre-season and he deserves some time. We're all competing really well with each other, it's really good.
"He's ready to go, he's a lot more confident than he was last year. That's just come along with a bit of time in the saddle.
"He's just full of energy, really keen to get out there. He was probably one of our best trainers, so it's good to see him get another shot.
"We've just got to match them, if not better them, with our physicality. That will start with the set piece obviously, the scrum and maul. If we can get a leg up there, it will put us in good stead to get the win."
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND TWO
Saturday: ACT Brumbies v NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm. Broadcast: Live on Gem and Stan Sport. Tickets from Ticketek.
ACT Brumbies squad: 1. James Slipper, 2. Connal McInerney, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Jahrome Brown, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Nic White, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Mack Hansen, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Andy Muirhead, 15. Tom Banks. Replacements: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Harry Lloyd, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Nick Frost, 20. Tom Cusack, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Reesjan Pasitoa, 23. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa.
NSW Waratahs squad: 1. Angus Bell, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Sam Caird, 5. Jack Whetton, 6. Lachlan Swinton, 7. Calo Tizzano, 8. Jack Dempsey, 9. Jack Grant, 10. Will Harrison, 11. James Ramm, 12. Tepai Moeroa, 13. Alex Newsome (c), 14. Mark Nawaqanitawase, 15. Jack Maddocks. Replacements: 16. David Poreki, 17. Te Tera Faulkner, 18. Sio Tatola, 19. Jeremy Williams, 20. Hugh Sinclair, 21. Henry Robertson, 22. Tane Edmed, 23. Triston Reilly.
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