Brumbies bring Ita Vaea back to face Chiefs

The Brumbies have named their team to play the Chiefs this weekend at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth with Ita Vaea making his first start in two years.

A syndesmosis injury to David Pocock forced the change, with Ita Vaea featuring at No.8 and in the starting side for the first time in two years.

The last time Vaea started for the Brumbies was under Jake White in 2012 and the Tongan powerhouse hasn’t featured at the back of the scrum since 2011.

Vaea has battled a serious heart condition for more than two years, with last week’s 30 minute effort against the Reds his first Super Rugby time since coming from the bench to beat the Waratahs in Sydney back in round 15 of 2012.

Vaea’s elevation to the starting side brings Sean Doyle onto the bench. The selection marks Doyle’s first crack at a match-day 23 in Australia having plied his trade with Ulster in Ireland for the last three years.

Jarrad Butler moves to open-side flanker and the rest of the team remains unchanged after last week’s decimation of the Reds in Canberra.

Head Coach Stephen Larkham is expecting his team to be facing much tougher opposition this week in New Plymouth.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Ita Vaea back to the starting side for the first time in two years. In my time in rugby this has been one of the great fight-back stories, right up there with Julian Huxley, and I’m pleased for Ita that he’s been able to make a full return to the starting side,” Larkham said.

“There’s no doubt we’ll miss David Pocock, but as the Brumbies Player’s Player in 2014 Jarrad Butler was outstanding and I’m excited to see him back in the No.7 jersey. It’s also a big occasion for Sean Doyle who’s likely to get a bit of time for us off the bench to make his Brumbies debut.

“We’ve had some epic battles with the Chiefs over the last couple of years and this rivalry has started to develop into a similar contest as what we faced with the Crusaders during my playing days.

“Every time we play the Chiefs it’s an exciting build up. The last two years we’ve seen them in a Final, a Qualifier and then again on Anzac Day so there is certainly a sense of occasion around this game.

“It’s been tough for the travelling team to get an edge in these fixtures, we haven’t beaten the Chiefs in New Zealand since 2007. But both the 2012 and 2013 games went right to the wire and really could have gone our way.”

With Stephen Moore again starting from the bench, the Captaincy falls to scrumhalf Nic White.

Since 2005 the home side has only gone down twice in this fixture, the Chiefs in 2007 and the Brumbies in 2008.

The match will be the first time the Brumbies have travelled to New Plymouth, having previously played this fixture in Hamilton, Mt Maunganui, Rotorua and Whangarei.

Brumbies

1. Scott Sio , 2. Josh Mann-Rea , 3. Ben Alexander , 4. Rory Arnold , 5. Sam Carter , 6. Scott Fardy , 7. Jarrad Butler , 8. Ita Vaea , 9. Nic White © , 10. Matt Toomua , 11. Henry Speight , 12. Christian Lealiifano , 13. Tevita Kuridrani , 14. Joe Tomane , 15. Robbie Coleman

Replacements :16. Stephen Moore , 17. JP Smith , 18. Ruan Smith , 19. Jordan Smiler , 20. Sean Doyle , 21. Michael Dowsett , 22. James Dargaville , 23. Lausii Taliauli

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