David Pocock faces a mouth-watering clash with South African breakdown maestro Heinrich Brussow when the Brumbies meet the Cheetahs in Canberra on Saturday night.
Ex-Wallabies skipper Pocock takes over at openside flanker, with highly-regarded Jarrad Butler moving to No.8, among three changes to a Brumbies team which fielded the same starting XV in the previous four matches.
Pocock has come off the bench for the Australian conference leaders in recent matches since overcoming ankle syndesmosis but his return to starting is timely with ball-pilferer Brussow sure to put huge pressure on the breakdown area.
With Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani facing two months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury from the last-start loss to the Waratahs, Henry Speight moves from the wing to outside centre and James Dargaville earns his first career Super Rugby start on the left wing.
“Henry (Speight) has covered for us at outside centre a number of times since he’s been at the Brumbies,” said Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham.
“Whenever our outside centres have gone off the field, he always puts his hand up to play there. He’s very keen and we’re very confident in his ability there.”
Larkham also opted to rest promising young lock Rory Arnold, giving Blake Enever his first start.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske made eight changes to his starting side, after their 37-27 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton last weekend.
Springboks Willie le Roux and Coenie Oosthuizen return after being rested last week in accordance with SA Rugby planning for the World Cup.
BRUMBIES: Robbie Coleman; Joe Tomane, Henry Speight, Christian Leali’ifano, James Dargaville; Matt Toomua, Nic White; Jarrad Butler, David Pocock, Scott Fardy; Sam Carter, Blake Enever; Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio. Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, Allan Alaalatoa, Ruan Smith, Jordan Smiler, Ita Vaea, Michael Dowsett, Lausi’I Taliauli, Nigel Ah Wong.
CHEETAHS: Willie le Roux; Cornal Hendricks, Johann Sadie, Francois Venter, Raymond Rhule; Joe Pietersen, Tian Meyer; Willie Britz, Johannes Prinsloo, Heinrich Brussow; Francois Uys (C), Carl Wegner; Coenie Oosthuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Danie Mienie. Reserves: Stephan Coetzee, Burrie Gildenhuys Uys, Nicholas van Dyk, Steven Sykes, Tienie Burger, Sarel Pretorius, Willie du Plessis, Rayno Benjamin.