Preview: Brumbies v. Rebels - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

Preview: Brumbies v. Rebels

Preview: Brumbies v. Rebels

Super Rugby AU is finally here so now we can stop watching Tik-Tok videos, looking at questionable hair styles and more importantly for couch athletes like myself, stop watching hyperlapse workout videos.

With tackle bags dominated, witches hats evaded and houses trained down, it’s now over to the Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels to reboot their 2020 seasons in Canberra on Saturday night.

It will have been 111 days since the Brumbies last played when they were on fire with consecutive 47-14 wins before the season was shutdown. The Rebels were also starting to find some form after a slow start with consecutive wins that included a win over the Highlanders in Dunedin.

But that’s all been thrown out the window with the pause in the season and a lot has happened in that time. There are also new laws on show that will have changed things up and with no trial form to go on apart from internal trials it will be interesting to see how the teams adapt with some of those new laws aimed at opening up the defensive line and encourage attacking play.

The Brumbies have a few changes from their last game against the Waratahs in March. Tom Banks is out with a foot injury with local junior Mack Hansen taking his place at fullback and his matchup with Dane Haylett-Petty will be intriguing.

The rest of the backline is relatively settled with Joe Powell partnering Noah Lolesio in the halves with Irae Simone and Tevita Kuridrani in the centres. The Brumbies had employed a rotation policy with the wingers who had been in fine form and Tom Wright gets to start with Andy Muirhead on the right wing with Solomone Kata out with a hamstring injury.

Also out is Cadeyrn Neville who has an ankle injury and that sees Darcy Swain start alongside Murray Douglas in the locks. The Brumbies have gone without any lock coverage on the bench so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Brumbies did release Blake Enever during the break but did pickup Ben Hyne and also have Nick Frost on the books but neither made the final 23.

They have gone with two backrowers in Lachie McCaffrey and Will Miller on the bench which may give a clue as to the gameplan the Brumbies will employ with the ruck reportedly to be policed more strictly under Angus Gardner. Also on the bench are Issak Fines, Bayley Kuenzle and Len Ikitau.

The Rebels have been training in Canberra for about a week to escape being trapped in Victoria with the number of Covid cases on the rise in the Melbourne area.

They have a number of additions to their squad over the break with a couple of sevens players combined with some overseas players. None of the Sevens contingent have made the 23 but the additions of Efi Maafu and Michael Stolberg from the Sunwolves have bolstered their reserves tocks after injury to Ross Haylett-Petty just before the break.

The starting forwards aren’t quite as experienced as their counterparts and the loss of Anaru Rangi has been offset by Jordan Uelese who will be happy to see the back of team rehab which has claimed Isi Naisarani to a hamstring injury.

Matt Philip has been touted as a Wallaby in 2020 after the departure of some lock numbers across the country but his recent signing with Pau in France might leave Dave Rennie with some selection problems if Test footy is back later in the year.

The Rebels starting backline is a very strong outfit with 4 Wallabies in Matt Toomua, Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge and Dane Haylett-Petty and their experience will be key in getting the Rebels on the front foot. The new kicking laws should appeal to them with Hodge’s long boot probably in for a big night with a few long balls being launched.

The match also marks Toomua’s 100th Super Rugby game that ensures he joins elite company in his household in raising the bat in reaching a century.

Key match ups

Folau Fainga’a v. Jordan Uelese

Fainga’a missed a number of games before the break with a toe injury and will probably be itching to break out the rolling maul and show Jordan Uelese that he’s got what it takes to claim the starting role in green and gold. Uelese has had dreadful luck in team rehab and a solid run of consecutive games could start a healthy battle against Fainga’a that will benefit the Wallabies in the long run.

Noah Lolesio v. Matt Toomua

The master and the apprentice II. Lolesio got the points earlier in 2020 but Toomua didn’t get to finish that game after coming off with injury to leave a makeshift Rebels backline depleted but they did finish that game strongly. Lolesio has shown he can more than match it at Super level and with another young playmaker in Will Harrison at the Waratahs having a solid 2020, it could see some good competition for Toomua for the Wallabies 10 jersey.

Tevita Kuridrani v. Reece Hodge

Both play 13 but offer vastly different things in that position. Kuridrani seemed to have been forgotten in the conversation for the 13 jersey when Jordan Petaia came onto the scene but he does a lot of work that goes unnoticed to help his team get over the advantage line. Hodge will also be aiming to nail down a permanent position at national level under Dave Rennie with chopping and changing between outside centre and wing spots and even had a crack at flyhalf against Japan a few years ago. Hodge’s kicking game with the new laws could be crucial in this game.


All the talk has been about the Brumbies as firm favourites for Super Rugby AU. There hasn’t been any warmup games to gauge how teams are travelling and this game could be closer than most think. Brumbies by 8.



1 James Slipper
2 Folau Fainga’a
3 Allan Alaalatoa
4 Darcy Swain
5 Murray Douglas
6 Rob Valetini
7 Tom Cusack
8 Pete Samu
9 Joe Powell
10 Noah Lolesio
11 Tom Wright
12 Irae Simone
13 Tevita Kuridrani
14 Andy Muirhead
15 Mack Hansen

16 Connal McInerney
17 Scott Sio
18 Tom Ross
19 Lachie McCaffrey
20 Will Miller
21 Isaak Fines
22 Bayley Kuenzle
23 Len Ikitau


1 Matt Gibbon
2 Jordan Uelese
3 Pone Fa’amausili
4 Matt Philip
5 Michael Stolberg
6 Josh Kemeny
7 Richard Hardwick
8 Michael Wells
9 Ryan Louwrens
10 Matt Toomua
11 Marika Koroibete
12 Billy Meakes
13 Reece Hodge
14 Andrew Kellaway
15 Dane Haylett-Petty

16 Efi Ma’afu
17 Cameron Orr
18 Jermaine Ainsley
19 Trevor Hosea
20 Esei Haangana
21 Rob Leota
22 Frank Lomani
23 Andrew Deegan


Kick off: Saturday 4 July 7:15pm AEST
Referee: Angus Gardner
AR1: Amy Perrett
AR2: Reuben Keane
TMO: James Leckie

  • Brumby Runner

    A good preview BJ, and I think you’re on the money about it likely being a closer game than many here are predicting. The influence of the law variations and weather will probably be crucial. Canberra’s going through a coldish period atm, but that is balanced by the Rebels being housed here for the week leading up to the game.

    Good luck to Mack Hanson on his run-on debut. He is an impressive player and could surprise the Rebels’ defense with his running from the back.

    • Nutta

      I am concerned about the drop-out rule. If I read it correctly, then a successful driving maul off a lineout that was ruled held-up then goes to a Mungo style drop-out. I feel that takes away all impetus from the attacking team. I WANT that 5m scrum. I earned that 5m scrum. Not just as a player, but I reckon it also makes for great viewing and tension in the game.

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    Just hope the Brumbies doesn’t run away with this game. That would be an ominous sign for the rest of the competition.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Steve. I’m thinking that the whole scenario of finally being back, new law interpretation, nerves and intensity is going to be quite disrupting and both the players and officials will struggle to get into it and so the game will be quite a low scoring affair. I like your match ups and it’ll be interesting to see how Hodge goes at 13 as he proved pretty crap there in previous games. TK should be all over him. I agree Brumbies and certainly by less than 12

  • Huw Tindall

    Don’t care who wins I’m just glad the rugby is back. Brums by <10 though if we're tipping. Probably most curious to see who spent the unscheduled off/pre season well and who didn't. Expect McKellar will have the Brums ticking on that front too.

  • Nutta

    Many Thanks BJ.

    For me, the Donkeys will set the pace early and run away with it. The average player capability of the Donkeys is substantially higher than the average player capability of the Scum and that will show in both the start and then again in the last 20min. The Scum will compete hard largely through a crafty backrow for at least the first half, and perhaps longer if the Donkeys aren’t efficient. However the overall class in both the starting front row and loosies plus their bench will decide this in the Donkeys favour.

    • Keith Butler

      Nutta. I have supported the Rebels since they came into being and am deeply offended by your reference to them as ‘The Scum’. At least tone down your language. I find ‘The Rabble’ more acceptable to my delicate cauliflower ears. Think you’re right about the outcome. It all starts upfront and I reckon my Rabble stand a good chance of being blown away. Great to see our rugby back again. I have the beers lined up.

      • Nutta

        Apologies to those of delicate sensibilities Keith.

        Although I must also note the Seditionists are my No2 team behind the Donkeys.

        I have a deep dislike of the Tarts stemming from when in typical high-handed manner NSW & NSW Country dumped the old Riverina and South West zones forcing them to take their 2,500 players (at the time) and seek refuge with the ACT as Southern Inland, only for NSW Country to then have the temerity to whinge about the loss of players. Fk them.

        And I’ve never forgiven Qld for boo-ing the Ella’s at Ballymore in 1982.

        Insults aren’t forgotten. Must be the Irish blood shining through…

        • Keith Butler

          All is forgiven but it will cost you a beer when we eventually meet up. Way things are going it could be2021.

  • Pedro

    You always go conservative BJ, 8 pfft. I say by 24.

    Brums scrum will crush the scum and the lineout will convert that into a big margin. It will be relentless in the forwards when you consider Sio etc is coming off the bench.

  • Although it pains me to say it, I think the Brumbies to win is the right call, I just don’t know what the margin of victory will be.

    I think the Brumbies are the form side in Australia, and while the lockdown break might have let the Rebels and the Reds catch up and the Brumbies slip off the pace and cohesion (or just as easily go the other way) I’m still expecting the Brumbies to canter through this competition.

    The margin of victory though – the new laws might do just about anything. We saw in the first two weeks in NZ how often the whistle got blown. Will that be the case here? Or will the impact be lower? Time will tell I guess.

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Canberra born and bred Rugby fan brought up on Canberra Kookaburra and ACT Brumbies Rugby.

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