All Blacks Reuben Thorne and Andy Ellis will miss Friday’s game against the Brumbies because of injury.
Thorne missed all three pre-season matches because of a strained calf muscle, while Ellis sprained his ankle in the match against the Hurricanes two weeks previously. Coach Robbie Deans confirmed the pair would miss out on the opening fixture. Lock Ross Filipo is also a concern, as he may need surgery to a bulge in his neck. The operation could rule him out for a month
Kieran Read will replace Thorne at blindside flank, while Kahn Fotuali’i will start at scrumhalf.
Meanwhile, the Brumbies will be without Wallabies Mark Chisholm, Stirling Mortlock and Clyde Rathbone. Mortlock will be out for half the season after having a shoulder operation, while Chisholm is recovering from a hernia problem and will be back in round two. Rathbone is struggling with a knee ailment and will be back in three weeks.