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Three changes for Brumbies to face Rebels

NZN 13/04/2017 Matt Coughlan

The Brumbies have turned to centre Andrew Smith and back-rower Jarrad Butler to cover key injuries as they try to make the Melbourne Rebels their 11th-straight Australian Super Rugby scalp.

Smith will play an unfamiliar role in Saturday night's match at AAMI Park, starting at inside centre in place of Kyle Godwin who is expected to miss at least two weeks with a broken hand.

Butler, who made his return from injury off the bench last week, is in the starting XV for No.8 Jordan Smiler after he hurt his hamstring in the 43-10 win over the Queensland Reds on Saturday.

Wallabies lock Sam Carter is set to regain the captaincy after being rested last week, renewing his partnership with Rory Arnold who was outstanding against the Reds.

"Smitty is a very consistent competitor and has the skill set to play either 12 or 13," coach Stephen Larkham said.

"Obviously he's been here in the past more as a 13, but we feel we've got the right game plan to use him at 12."

Butler celebrated his return, and his 50th Brumbies appearance, with a try last week.

"Jarrad has been a mainstay of this team over the last couple of years. He hasn't had a lot of starts or game time this year but fills that role nicely," Larkham said.

The Brumbies are set to face a Rebels side with a point to prove, as the axe continues to hang over them and the Western Force.

"If they need to get extra motivation then they'll do so but that's not going to affect the way we're going to play," Larkham said.

"I think they've turned a bit of a corner over the last couple of weeks and started to play some really good football.

"They have so many dangerous players both at the breakdown and with their ball carry."

The Brumbies also turned a corner last week, putting 33 unanswered points on the Reds in an impressive attacking display to complement Super Rugby's best defence.

"The plan is to try and use the ball as much as possible, but we want to find balance so if conditions aren't good or the game's just not going our way we'll find the balance we need to find," Larkham said.

Carter's return pushes Blake Enever to the bench while former Australian sevens star and backrower Tom Cusack is in line to make his Super Rugby debut from the bench.

"There's a lot of competition in the back row at the moment," Larkham said.

"He's in that 23 because he has the right skill set and he's playing good football."

BRUMBIES: Aidan Toua, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Andrew Smith, Tom Banks, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Jarrad Butler, Chris Alcock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter (capt), Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Robbie Abel, Scott Sio. Res: Saia Fainga'a, Nic Mayhew, Ben Alexander, Blake Enever, Tom Staniforth, Tom Cusack, De Wet Roos, Jordan Jackson-Hope.

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