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Injuries unearths Brumbies' depth

27/03/2010 02:44:03 PM Comments (0)

The Brumbies' run of injuries has failed to slow but coach Andy Friend remains upbeat about his side's Super 14 hopes thanks to the depth of his depleted squad.

Winger Francis Fainifo became the latest casualty after fracturing his leg in the early stages of the Brumbies' thrilling 30-23 win over the Chiefs in Canberra on Friday night, the injury set to bring a premature end to Fainifo's season.

The Brumbies scored three tries to two, the last with less than three minutes to go, to break a 23-23 deadlock and notch up their first win over the Chiefs since 2007.

But the ACT-based side is counting the cost of the bruising encounter with halfback Josh Valentine also in doubt for their next clash after coming from the field early in the first half with a hamstring injury.

Friend said he remained hopeful Fainifo would be right for the last match of the regular season, against the Crusaders in Christchurch, while he would know more about Valentine's prospects on Monday.

"He's definitely got some pain there in the hamstring. Whether it's a neural pain or a deep cork, we're just not sure yet," he said of Valentine.

"I'm hoping it's not going to be too bad but we'll wait and find out."

The pair join inside centre Christian Lealiifano, who copped a season-ending knee injury in the loss to the Blues last week, and veteran flanker George Smith on the sidelines.

It remains unclear when Smith will be fit after he injured his shoulder against the Blues.

However, the string of injuries have also thrown up some positives, with former Australian schoolboys flanker Michael Hooper thrown into the action as cover for Smith.

Hooper scored a try in his Super 14 debut against the Chiefs, and up against an All Blacks backrow in Sione Lauaki, Tanerau Latimer and Liam Messam, showed he could match it with some of the game's best.

"I thought Hooper was great, I thought young Colby Faingaa did well when he came on, I thought Mitch Chapman was industrious and worked really well," Friend said.

Injuries had forced the Brumbies to reshuffle their backline ahead of Friday night's match, but the changes also paved the way for Julian Huxley to make his remarkable comeback two years after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Huxley, who had expected to play no more than 10 minutes in his comeback match, was thrown into the action early after the injury to Fainifo.

"Huxley, he looked good, as did all those boys that got their opportunity last night. So yeah, it was pleasing," Friend said.

"We have got good depth in the squad and that's an important thing as we go forward."

The Brumbies now have a week off with a bye before hosting the Cheetahs the week after Easter.

Friend said the bye was welcome.

"We're just sort of getting to that stage of the season where certainly the last two weeks have been two very tough games of football.

"We've got a few blokes just carrying some things at the moment so having the week off won't do anyone any harm."

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