Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has called on Lolo Fakaosilea to add energy and physicality to the forward pack on Friday night when the Brumbies attempt to end Melbourne’s unbeaten start to the season.
Fakaosilea has been picked as openside flanker in one of several changes to the Brumbies’ squad for what looms as an important match against Rebels at AAMI Park, who sits atop the Australian conference.
Left out of the side that travelled to Japan in round two, Fakaosilea put his hand up for selection against the Rebels after coming off the bench against the Reds last weekend.
“I have been working hard all throughout the preseason and last week when I had the opportunity to play against the Reds, obviously Dan has seen something there and put a bit of belief in me. I’ll take it with two hands and make the most of it.”
“After the preseason we just had, I think the whole squad is feeling fit including myself so I’ll just get out there and do my job.”
McKellar has made two changes to the starting line-up that was defeated by the Reds in a disappointing performance in Queensland.
Wallaby prop forward Scott Sio has recovered from the calf injury and is named in the front row in place of Ben Alexander while Fakaosilea replaces Tom Cusack in the starting XV.
McKellar said the Brumbies staff haven’t rushed Sio back into the side but the team needs to be realistic about his capabilities returning from his injury lay off.
“Sio is a world-class loosehead prop but we need to be realistic. Scott is coming back from an injury and he had a bit of time against the Chiefs in a trial game. I just want him to do the basics really well and it starts with scrum. We were disappointed with our scrum against the Reds and it wasn’t at our standard and we understand we need to be better.”
Folau Faingaa is set to make his Super Rugby debut from the bench, with the 22-year-old sensation already touted as a future Wallaby by Test coach Michael Cheika.
Fakaosilea said he is trying to keep his room-mate Faingaa grounded ahead of his debut.
“We are all behind him, trying to keep him grounded and calm because he has been nervous and couldn’t sleep last night. It’s a big opportunity for him, no doubt he will take it with both hands and do the jersey well.”
The Brumbies will be intent on a good start against the Rebels, who have scored two bonus-point wins to start their year, destroying the Reds and the Sunwolves to sit at the top of the Australian conference.
The Brumbies travel to Melbourne to take on the Rebels at AAMI Park this evening before returning to Canberra Stadium for their first game of the year on March 17. The match will be screened live on Fox Sports at 7.45 pm.
1. Scott Sio
2. Josh Mann-Rea
3. Allan Alaalatoa
4. Rory Arnold
5. Sam Carter (c)
6. Lachlan McCaffrey
7. Lolo Fakaosilea
8. Isi Naisarani
9. Joe Powell
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Chance Peni
12. Kyle Godwin
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Tom Banks
16. Folau Fainga’a
17. Faalelei Sione
18. Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin
19. Richie Arnold
20. Tom Cusack
21. Matt Lucas
22. Wharenui Hawera
23. Andy Muirhead