The NSW Waratahs take on the ACT Brumbies in a crucial Australian derby at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday night.
The Waratahs have made a number of changes, with fullback Israel Folau to get a much-awaited start at outside centre. Kurtley Beale returns from an elbow injury and will join Folau in the centres with Andrew Kellaway earning his first start at fullback. Will Skelton will start at lock, in place of club captain Dave Dennis, in a bid to add more weight behind inexperienced hooker Hugh Roach and tight-head Tom Robertson, who is making his starting debut.
The Brumbies were forced to make changes following the suspension of flanker David Pocock and the retirement of No.8 Ita Vaea. Jarrad Butler returns from a knee injury in place of Pocock and versatile backrower Jordan Smiler will slot in at No.8.
The matchup in the inside backs will be crucial with the experienced Brumbies trio of No.10 Christian Lealiifano, inside centre Matt Toomua and outside centre Tevita Kuridrani coming up against the new combination of Bernard Foley, Beale and Folau for the Waratahs.
The Brumbies defeated the Waratahs 32-15 in round two at Canberra and will hope to assert their dominance in the Australian Conference following a disappointing loss to the Chiefs two weeks ago.
The Waratahs’ season hangs in the balance with only two wins, and a loss at home to their rivals from Canberra could quell their already dim hopes of a finals berth. – Andrew Cullen
Photo of Scott Sio from BrumbiesRugby Twitter Feed.