Brumbies Ulugia starts against Stormers

Rookie-contracted John Ulugia has entered the CA Brumbies’ front-row rotation, earning his starting debut for his side in their Investec Super 14 Week Six match against the Stormers at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

The 21-year-old has been included in the CA Brumbies’ line-up after making his provincial debut off the bench against the Cheetahs in Week Nine last year.

Ulugia, who replaces Nic Henderson at loosehead prop, says he is looking forward to running out against the Stormers.

“I’m very excited about [making my Super 14 starting debut],” he said. “Fortunately I’ve been part of the squad a couple of times before so it’s not a totally new experience for me. Hendo [Henderson] has set the bar very high with some excellent performances this season and hopefully I can continue that good work.”

Laurie Fisher says he is pleased to give Ulugia his first start with the CA Brumbies.

“He was on [a rookie] contract with us last year, we believe that he’s up to this level and this was a good opportunity for him to get some game time,” he said. “It also gives us the luxury of being able to give players like Shep [Guy Shepherson], Hendo and Salesi [Ma’afu] a rest from time to time. It’s a tough, demanding season and if these players start week in, week out then they’re unlikely to be playing their best football right the way through.”

Shepherson joins Ulugia in the CA Brumbies’ starting front row for Friday night with Ma’afu rested for the match. Julian Salvi also returns to the starting line-up at blindside flanker while Jone Tawake reverts back to the bench.

The CA Brumbies’ backline has been boosted by the return of captain Stirling Mortlock and winger Clyde Rathbone from injury.

“It’s super important for us to have Stirlo and Clyde back into the squad,” Fisher said. “They are both international quality players and they bring a tremendous amount of confidence to the team with them. It also takes the pressure off the inside backs and makes them feel they don’t have to run the game by themselves.

Lock/back-rower Peter Kimlin, who recently joined the CA Brumbies’ squad on a one-year rookie contract, is set to make his Investec Super 14 debut off the bench. Kimlin will be joined on the CA Brumbies’ reserves list by last week’s Investec Super 14 debutantes Francis Fainifo and Anthony Faingaa.

Kimlin will become the CA Brumbies’ fourth rookie-contracted player – including Ulugia and Fainifo – to be used in the Investec Super 14 this season.

Fisher says it’s important to give his up-and-coming players an opportunity to prove themselves at the elite level. “If we don’t have faith in them and they don’t play at this level then they’ll have no idea where they stand in the game and how good they can be,” he said.

CA Brumbies v Stormers
Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Friday, 9 March 2007
Kick-off: 7.40pm (local time)

Player Position S14 Caps S14 Points

1. John Ulugia Loosehead prop 1 0
2. Jeremy Paul Hooker 104 115
3. Guy Shepherdson Tighthead prop 38 0
4. Adam Wallace-Harrison Lock 23 10
5. Mark Chisholm Lock 49 45
6. Julian Salvi Blindside Flanker 16 0
7. George Smith Openside Flanker 86 75
8. Stephen Hoiles No.8 35 10
9. George Gregan Scrumhalf 128 117
10. Julian Huxley Flyhalf 42 204
11. Mark Gerrard Wing 51 148
12. Gene Fairbanks Inside Centre 25 25
13. Stirling Mortlock(C) Outside Centre 95 838
14. Clyde Rathbone Wing 41 85
15. Adam Ashley-Cooper Fullback 20 10

16. Saia Faingaa Reserve 8 0
17. Nic Henderson Reserve 42 0
18. Peter Kimlin Reserve 0 0
19. Jone Tawake Reserve 31 5
20. Patrick Phibbs Reserve 12 5
21. Anthony Faingaa Reserve 1 0
22. Francis Fainifo Reserve 1 0

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