Jarrad Butler will start at No. 8 on UC Brumbies debut taking on his former team mates, the Queensland Reds, for the 2014 Asteron Life Super Rugby season opener this Saturday night.
An aged grade super star who represented Australia at schools and Under 20s levels, Butler earned 12 caps for the Reds between 2012 and 2013 before making the move south over Christmas to take up a contract with the UC Brumbies.
From the side which contested the Super Rugby Final last August there are several changes, most notably Captain Ben Mowen moving to blind-side flanker and the inclusion of Pat McCabe at inside-centre.
The match against the Reds marks McCabe’s 50th at Super Rugby level, each of which have been made in UC Brumbies jersey. He returns from a second broken neck, which was sustained during the British and Irish Lions tour in 2013.
2013’s tight five of Scott Sio, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Scott Fardy and Sam Carter remains intact, while David Pocock returns from injury at open-side flanker with Mowen and Butler filling out the back-row.
Nic White has earned first crack at the No. 9 jersey and will be matched in the halves by his Wallabies partner, Matt Toomua.
McCabe and Smith fill the centres, while Joe Tomane, Henry Speight (wings) and Jesse Mogg (fullback) make up the back three.
The bench is where the most changes have occurred, with Lionel Cronje (flyhalf), Conrad Hoffmann (scrumhalf) and Lachlan McCaffrey (back-row) all in line to make their UC Brumbies debuts.
They are joined by regulars Siliva Siliva, Ruan Smith, Ruaidhri Murphy, Leon Power and Tevita Kuridrani.
Head Coach Stephen Larkham said it was important to get the season off to a solid start.
“It’s important to start the season well – we aren’t resting on results from last year we realise this is a totally new opportunity, but winning games first up is important for confidence and rhythm, that’s why teams concentrate so hard on the first round.
“We did have a successful year last year, we know the formula that worked for us last year and we won’t be going too far away from that this year, but in saying that we can certainly look at improving how we play out of our own half.”