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Four new Brumbies for Super Rugby opener

NZN 23/02/2017 Adrian Warren

The Brumbies will throw four newcomers into the Christchurch cauldron for Saturday tough Super Rugby season opener against the Crusaders.

Prop Nic Mayhew, flanker Chris Alcock, five-eighth Wharenui Hawera and Wallabies centre Kyle Godwin will all get their first Brumbies start in a side containing eight Australian Test players.

There could be as many as seven Brumbies debutants, with forward Lolo Fakaosilea and backs De Wet Roos and Isaac Thompson all named on the bench.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham described New Zealander Mayhew as a top-notch scrummager.

He said Hawera, another Kiwi, had steered the side around the field well in two trials.

Hawera will form a new halves combination with Joe Powell, who has been named in place of injured Argentine halfback Tomas Cubelli.

Alcock has won the battle to replace Wallabies superstar David Pocock, who is on a sabbatical.

Larkham gave short shrift to the widely held opinion his side, who had lost several leading members of the 2016 squad, would start underdogs.

"We're not approaching it that way," Larkham said.

"The guys are feeling pretty good.

"It looks to me their energy levels and their motivation level has probably peaked this week, so they should go into the game with a lot of confidence."

Larkham was impressed by the way the Crusaders had gone about their work in their two trials and the Tens tournament in Brisbane.

"They've performed really well in all of those, so I don't expect they will be off to a slow start," Larkham said.

"I know the New Zealand sides generally - because they don't have their All Blacks players back into the fold in the first couple of rounds - are normally slow starters. But, I don't see that as the case this week."

The Brumbies will be captained by Wallabies lock Sam Carter.

"We've got five Wallabies in that starting pack, so we need them to step up and show the way for the rest of the team," Carter said.

Brumbies: Aidan Toua, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Kyle Godwin, James Dargaville, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Jordan Smiler, Chris Alcock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter (capt), Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Josh Mann-Rea, Nic Mayhew. Res: Robbie Abel, Ben Alexander, Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, Tom Staniforth, Lolo Fakaosilea, De Wet Roos, Andrew Smith, Isaac Thompson.

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