Brumbies prop up for the fight after return to fray
GIANT Brumbies prop Scott Sio will end a two-month stint on the sidelines when he lines up against the Bulls at GIO Stadium tonight.
Aside from a 60-minute run with the Tuggeranong Vikings last weekend, Sio hasn't been seen since round nine in Auckland, when he strained his medial ligament against the Blues.
With Matt Toomua out for at least one more week (syndesmosis strain), Robbie Coleman returns to the starting side, bringing Nigel Ah Wong on to the bench.
Prop JP Smith will drop from the match-day 23, providing an opportunity for up-and-comer Allan Alaalatoa to make an impact in the second half.
Sio said he was pleased to be back in the frame for selection.
"It was a good to have a hit-out with the Vikings. I love to get out there with the club boys and we got a result," he said.
"We made a call last Friday if everything was fine after 40 minutes I'd go another 20 and after all that I've come out 100%."
The Brumbies will face their third South African opponent in as many rounds tonight, having come back from the Republic two weeks ago.
Fresh from a bye and a win against the Lions in Johannesburg, the ACT outfit will be full of confidence knowing the finals are just three wins away, in this must-win fixture.
Sio's return will leave the Brumbies injured list looking short, with just Toomua, Fotu Auelua, Lausii Taliauli and Sean Doyle remaining on the sidelines.
It's been eight years since the Bulls last posted a win in Canberra but the games are usually tight.
In 2009, just one point separated the two teams, while in 2013 a penalty after the siren handed the Brumbies a narrow win.
Also tonight, the Crusaders will host the Hurricanes in Nelson and early tomorrow morning (AEST) the Sharks (11th) will play the Melbourne Rebels (10th) in Durban. The Sharks have won 10 of their past 11 matches against Australian opposition.
Prop Alex Hodgman will make his first start of the season for the Crusaders, with Joe Moody out with a foot injury.
Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock, No.8 Kieran Read and midfielder Ryan Crotty are out with head knocks.
That sees Jimmy Tupou start at lock alongside Luke Romano, while Dominic Bird takes a spot on the bench.
Richie McCaw steps into captaincy duties and the No.7 jersey, with Matt Todd playing at six, Jordan Taufua at eight and Luke Whitelock on the bench.
World-class winger Julian Savea has recommitted until the end of 2019 with the first-placed Hurricanes.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU