The Brumbies will start as white-hot favourites for Friday night’s Super Rugby clash at nib Stadium after the Western Force opted to rest four front-line players.
Scrumhalf Alby Mathewson, hooker Nathan Charles, lock Steve Mafi and back-rower Angus Cottrell have all been shifted to the bench along with young prop Guy Millar.
Tighthead prop Jermaine Ainsley and lock Ross Haylett-Petty will be making their run-on debuts, while Wallabies enforcer Ben McCalman will add experience to the back row after making his first appearance off the bench in last week’s 22-6 win over Queensland.
Hooker Heath Tessmann, and scrumhalf Ian Prior are the other inclusions.
Force coach Michael Foley said the five changes were all about ensuring the squad stayed fresh for the entire season.
But it could spell bad news against the ladder-leading Brumbies, who dismantled the Hurricanes and Waratahs in the opening two rounds.
“A key learning from last season was that we needed to use a greater number of players in our starting 15, to ensure we gave ourselves the chance to perform at our best each week,” Foley said.
“We’ve retained the match 23 from last week, and asked some players who’ve displayed good form in training and from the bench to lead us out this week.
“This is something we’ve worked and planned for since the start of pre-season, but has been made a reality by how well players have supported each other across all positional groups.”
Western Force: Dane Haylett-Petty, Luke Morahan, Ben Tapuai, Solomoni Rasolea, Semisi Masirewa, Jono Lance, Ian Prior, Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson (capt), Brynard Stander, Adam Coleman, Ross Haylett-Petty, Jermaine Ainsley, Heath Tessmann, Pek Cowan. Reserves: Nathan Charles, Chris Heiberg, Guy Millar, Steve Mafi, Angus Cottrell, Alby Mathewson, Peter Grant, Marcel Brache.