Keo.co.za brings you news from Australia’s Super Rugby franchises.
Cipriani returns at 10 – The ban for bad behaviour has been lifted and Danny Cipriani has been rushed back into the Rebels’ starting line-up for the match against the Brumbies.
Cipriani’s return sees Julian Huxley shifting to inside centre. Mark Gerrard will play fullback and Richard Kingi will move to the wing.
Kevin O’Neill comes in for the injured lock Hugh Pyle, while Rodney Blake’s return allows Greg Somerville to start at tighthead.
Rebels – 15 Mark Gerrard, 14 Richard Kingi, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Julian Huxley, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Kevin O’Neill, 4 Alister Campbell, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Rodney Blake.
Subs: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Adam Byrnes, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Lachlan Mitchell, 21 Peter Betham, 22 Afusipa Taumoepeau.
O’Connor poised to re-sign with Force – James O’Connor is set to end speculation on his future by extending his contract with the Force.
Reports coming out of Australia suggest the 20-year-old wonderkid will sign for another year, dashing the Brumbies, Reds and Rebels’ hopes of securing his services.
Although Force officials have yet to confirm a new deal, it’s understood O’Connor merely needs to finalise the ARU component of his contract.
Phibbs in for BrumbiesPatrick Phibbs will start in place of the injured scrumhalf Josh Valentine when the Brumbies tackle the Rebels in Canberra on Saturday.
The only other change to the team sees flanker Henry Vanderglas provide loose forward back-up from the bench as Colby Faingaa and Michael Hooper head to the Junior World Champs with the Aussie U20s.
Brumbies – 15 Pat McCabe, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tyrone Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Patrick Phibbs, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Jono Owen.
Subs: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Henry Vanderglas, 20 Nick White, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Andrew Smith
Rocket Rod rushed back – Rod Davies will play against the Force this Saturday after being rushed back from injury.
The Reds will be without Ben Lucas, Digby Ioane and Anthony Faingaa for this clash, and so coach Ewen McKenzie has been forced to call on Davies earlier than expected. McKenzie will only name his match 22 on Friday.
Baxter to hang boots – Wallabies and Waratahs tighthead prop Al Baxter will retire at the end of the season.
The veteran of 69 Tests and 129 Super Rugby matches said he will finish the current Waratahs’ campaign but doesn’t feel his body can last another season.
‘It was tough in some ways, but easy in others. I love playing rugby union and to give it away is really difficult, but I’d got to a stage where my body was taking about five days to recover between games,’ he said.
‘Seasons were getting longer, everyone seems to be getting bigger and stronger, so I don’t think I would have lasted another full pre-season and I certainly wouldn’t have lasted another full Super season.’
Baxter has confirmed that he will make himself available for the Wallabies until the end of the year if needed.