Wallabies centre Christian Leali'ifano will make his first start of the season against the Chiefs in Canberra on Friday.
It's a long-awaited return to the starting XV for Leali'ifano, who missed the first month of the season due to an ankle injury sustained on Wallabies duty last season. The 26-year old was one of the Brumbies' star performers on their way to the Super Rugby final in 2013 against Friday's opponents.
It was the Chiefs who were victorious then, clawing back a 10-point deficit to win an absorbing final 27-22. Their last meeting in Canberra was on the opening weekend of the 2011 season, with the Brumbies claiming a fairly comfortable 28-20 victory on that occasion. You'll have to go back to 2008 for the Chiefs last victory on Brumbies turf. Stephen Donald scored 20 points that day as they ran out 42-28 victors.
The Chiefs have made wholesale changes for this one, with six changes to the starting XV and four on the bench. For the Brumbies, Leali'ifano will take the in-form Pat McCabe's place in their midfield, while Sam Carter returns at lock in the only other change.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Brumbies 3 Chiefs 4
In Canberra: Brumbies 2 Chiefs 1
LEALI'IFANO'S STATS THAT MATTER
58 – The number of penalty goals he kicked in 2013 (Rank 1)
233 – The number points he scored in 2013 (Rank 2)
18 – The number matches he started for Brumbies in 2013 (100%)
Brumbies – 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Tom McVerry, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Pat McCabe.
Chiefs – 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Liam Messam (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Nick Crosswell, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Pauliasi Manu
Subs: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Tevita Koloamatangi, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Dwayne Sweeney, 23 James Lowe.
Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images