White benched for Brumbies

The Brumbies have sprung a surprise by benching Wallabies halfback Nic White for their Super Rugby clash with the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday.

White’s spot has gone to his backup Michael Dowsett who will make his starting debut.

White had an unusually patchy game for the Australian conference leaders in their 16-14 loss to the Blues in Auckland last Friday night.

But the Brumbies insisted that wasn’t the reason he’s been benched.

“It’s always been on the agenda to give Whitey a freshen-up,” said assistant coach Dan McKellar.

“His game last week doesn’t have anything to do with the selection.

“It’s just about keeping guys fresh, and making sure that guys aren’t just constantly sitting on the pine.

“Michael Dowsett is a contracted player and we’ve got to back him, and we’ve got full confidence he’ll do a really good job on Saturday.”

Havingr fielded an unchanged side for the first month of the competition, injury has taken grip and forced the Brumbies into a number of other changes.

Christian Lealiifano moves in one position to flyhalf in place of the injured Matt Toomua, with Nigel Ah Wong making his first start for 2015 at inside centre.

Lausii Taliauli will start on the wing in place of the injured James Dargaville.

Up front, JP Smith replaces injured loosehead prop Scott Sio, while rising star Rory Arnold returns at lock with Blake Enever dropping to the bench.

Jordan Smiler and Ita Vaea remain on the bench for extra backrow cover in a six-two forwards-backs split, while bench midfielder Rodney Iona is a chance to play his first Super Rugby match since debuting against the Waratahs last season.

Brumbies: Robbie Coleman; Lausii Taliauli, Henry Speight, Nigel Ah Wong, Joe Tomane; Christian Lealiifano, Michael Dowsett; Jarrad Butler, David Pocock, Scott Fardy; Sam Carter, Rory Arnold; Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, JP Smith. Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, Allan Alaalatoa, Ruan Smith, Blake Enever, Ita Vaea, Jordan Smiler, Nic White, Rodney Iona.

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