Huxley set to start against Cheetahs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Huxley set to start against Cheetahs

By Jim Morton 05/04/2010 03:57:30 PM Comments (0)

Julian Huxley's astonishing comeback will lift a gear on Saturday night when he starts in an injury-riddled Brumbies backline against the Cheetahs.

Huxley is poised to be named at fullback, forcing incumbent Wallabies No.15 Adam Ashley-Cooper to the wing, after impressing off the bench in his Super 14 return from brain surgery.

The former Test utility should be one of three new starting backs at Canberra Stadium with veteran centre Stirling Mortlock (back and calf), halfback Josh Valentine (hamstring) and winger Francis Fainifo (broken arm) all injured.

Brumbies coach Andy Friend was so enamoured with Huxley's 68 minutes off the bench in the last-start 30-23 victory over the Chiefs that he'll move Ashley-Cooper to accommodate the 30-year-old against the lowly Cheetahs.

"I thought he did really well last week to show he's got real class," Friend told AAP.

"It looked like he hadn't been away for very long.

"It may well be that he's at fullback, with Adam Ashley-Cooper on the wing with Pat McCabe, which gives us three fullbacks in the outside back positions which is a handy spot to be in."

Ashley-Cooper, who made his mark as a versatile Mr Fix-It for the Brumbies and Wallabies, has enjoyed the greater consistency of owning the No.15 jersey in 2010.

But Friend hinted he'd have a licence to pop up in more places in attack to give the Brumbies an extra dimension.

The ACT-based side sit equal fifth on the table, trailing the fourth-placed Stormers by three points, after their bye but have worrying clouds over veterans Mortlock and George Smith.

A frustrated Smith is no closer to overcoming a shoulder problem and will undergo nerve conduction tests in the coming week while Mortlock is carrying an injury which has affected his bullocking play.

"He's had it for a while and has been lacking some real power down the right-side of his body," Friend said.

"The week's definitely helped him but he'll probably need a bit more time."

Tyrone Smith is likely to return to outside centre while another back-up midfielder, Andrew Smith, is recovering quickly from a groin problem.

Valentine, who scored the opening try against the Chiefs, set up by Ashley-Cooper and McCabe, will be replaced by Patrick Phibbs at halfback this weekend but is hopeful of returning to play the Hurricanes on April 16.

The injury dramas are a far cry from how the Brumbies started the season, being able to name the same 22 from round two to round five.

Friend, to keep Matt Giteau at inside centre and youngster Matt Toomua at five-eighth, admitted there will be extra pressure on his backs to click into gear against the 12th-placed Cheetahs

"We definitely haven't been firing like we could have been or should have been through the course of the comp but I do feel that in each game we're getting better in those areas and it's not too far away that it can fall into place," he said

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