Injuries force Brumbies backline shuffle - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Injuries force Brumbies backline shuffle

14/04/2010 05:07:22 PM Comments (0)

Matt Giteau will be shifted back to flyhalf after an injury stricken Brumbies were forced to reshuffle their backline for this Friday's Super 14 clash with the Hurricanes.

The Wallabies playmaker is looking forward to a return to his favoured position after a poor start to the season saw him shifted to inside centre.

Giteau conceded his form early this season was below par, and that he's had a greater impact since moving to No 12.

But he is also adamant he is on an upward trajectory and is keen for a return closer to the ruck.

"I had a little bit more room (playing at inside centre), so I was able to attack a bit more," he said.

"But I've had a bit more time now.

"I didn't get a real lot of pre-season, I'm not trying to make excuses, but I felt at the start of the year it took me a while to get into it."

Giteau will be joined in a reshaped midfield by Wallabies fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper who will play at outside centre.

The sixth-placed Brumbies have had a horror run with injuries this season and now face a finals tightrope walk without some of their top-line players.

It had been hoped Stirling Mortlock would make a return in Canberra this Friday but the veteran Wallabies outside centre will remain sidelined with a back injury, while halfback Josh Valentine is in doubt with a hamstring strain.

Matt Toomua, who has filled in at No.10 since Christian Lealiifano was ruled out for the season several weeks ago with a knee injury, is the latest casualty and is expected to be out for up to a month.

Winger Francis Fainifo is also out with a broken leg.

The Brumbies are also feeling the pain in the forwards with a corked hip ruling lock Mitch Chapman out of clash with the Hurricanes, while it is unclear as to whether flanker George Smith has played his last Super rugby match as he continues to battle a shoulder injury.

The changes to the backline will see Tyrone Smith play off Giteau's shoulder at inside centre, while Alfie Mafi will start on the wing following Ashley-Cooper's move to No 13.

Julian Huxley will again start at fullback in his second run-on appearance since recovering from a brain tumour.

Giteau said the long injury list would test the side's depth, but was confident they could match it with the ninth placed Hurricanes who boast a number of All Blacks.

The Brumbies are coming off a 61-15 win over the Cheetahs which saw them notch up their first four-try bonus point last week.

However, he is also mindful that a loss this week could end the side's chances of being around at the business end of the season.

"This week's a huge test for us to keep that momentum going but also just to stay in the hunt," Giteau said.

"There's a big logjam at the top of the table and a win this week, especially with the injuries we've got, would be a huge boost for the side."

Brumbies: Julian Huxley, Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tyrone Smith, Matt Giteau, Josh Valentine/Patrick Phibbs, Stephen Hoiles (capt), Michael Hooper, Rocky Elsom, Mark Chisholm, Ben Hand, Salesi Ma'afu, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander. Res: Huia Edmonds, Guy Shepherdson, Justin Harrison, Colby Faingaa, Patrick Phibbs/James Stannard, Brackin Kaurauria-Henry, Andrew Smith/Ed Stubbs.

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