Stirling Mortlock, the CA Brumbies veteran, will miss tomorrow's clash at the Auckland Blues after knocks to his neck and shoulder in last week's narrow victory over the Natal Sharks. While the 32-year-old has been cleared of any structural damage, Andy Friend, the Brumbies' coach, has opted to rest the former captain with Tyrone Smith wearing the No 13 jersey in his absence. Smith, who has been unable to crack the starting line-up this season, will partner the in-form Christian Lealiifano in the centres for the round six clash.
The change to the starting line-up see Andrew Smith move onto the bench while Jerry Yanuyanutawa, the prop, is also in line to make his Super 14 debut after being elevated to the reserves list. The rookie pair will start on the bench alongside Patrick Phibbs, the scrum-half who did not see action against the Sharks and is again in line for his 50th Super 14 cap tomorrow. Mark Chisolm will become the most capped Brumbies lock when he earns his 81st start against the Blues, surpassing David Giffen's 80 matches for the provincial side between 1996 and 2004.
The Brumbies broke a seven-year drought on their last venture to Auckland in 2008 and head to Eden Park full of confidence after a solid opening to the campaign. "I'm very comfortable with where we are at the moment," Friend said. "If someone had offered me four wins from five at the beginning of the season with the South African leg completed then I would have taken that. "The challenge for us is that we continue to build throughout the season.
"At this stage, we're creating opportunities to put sides away but we're not finishing them off." Meanwhile, twins Anthony and Saia Faingaa have committed their futures to the Queensland Reds until the end of the 2012. The 23-year-olds have played key roles in the club's strong early-season form, with Anthony putting in consistently strong performances at inside centre after getting an opportunity this year with the departure of Berrick Barnes.
Saia claimed the starting hooker position in round two when the experienced Sean Hardman picked up an injury and has held onto it ever since. Ewen McKenzie, the Queensland coach, said: "We want to reward performance and both Anthony and Saia are giving us what we want." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org