Long-awaited return for Taliauli

14 March 2019 07:57:26 EST

The Brumbies have named winger Lausii Taliauli in their starting side to take on the Waratahs, handing him his first start in almost a year.

Taliauli's last run-on appearance came in round seven last season, also against NSW.

The former sevens star has only played 23 games in four years with the ACT franchise and missed the whole of the 2017 season following a knee reconstruction.

Taliauli is one of seven injury-enforced changes to the Brumbies side for Friday's Canberra Stadium clash.

Tighthead prop Les Leuluaialii-Makin, Irae Simone and Lachlan McCaffrey come in the starting XV.

Jordan Jackson-Hope will get his first chance of the season after impressing in reserve grade, and both Tom Ross and Mack Hansen will make their Super Rugby debuts as reserves.

Coach Dan McKellar said he would have selected Taliauli in his opening-round side but he injured his knee in a trial match against NSW.

Speaking of the 25-year-old, who shed ten kilograms in the off-season, the coach added: "He played well last week for the Brumby Runners and scored a couple of tries, so he deserves a crack. He's miles ahead in fitness from where he's been.

"If he can string ten games together, he's got a career in front of him. But he just needs that little bit of luck to stay fit and not get injured."

McCaffrey is back in the side at No. 8 after being rotated out of the squad last week in the 29-26 defeat to the Rebels.

Leuluaialii-Makin replaces Allan Alaalatoa (wrist) at tighthead prop and inside centre Simone returns after missing the Rebels match with a rib problem.

The Brumbies have won only one of their first four games, and McKellar said: "When the pressure is against us or the opposition have dominant periods, we've got to knuckle down and dig in, defend our line and get possession back."

ACT are 51/50 to win their next game against the Waratahs, who are 4/5.

The Brumbies are 87/100 conceding a 1.5-points start.

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