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Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Super 14: Paul escapes the Hurricanes


The Brumbies will be without Wallaby hooker Jeremy Paul when they face the Hurricanes in a Super 14 pre-season match at Masterton on Friday. Paul is struggling with a calf strain.

Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher on Monday named a 26-man squad for Friday's outing, with many familiar faces returning, but Paul won't be there.

"Jeremy [Paul] has suffered a slight calf strain at our [training] session last [Monday] night so just for precaution we will rest him this weekend," said Fisher. "He'll have an MRI to reveal the extent of the damage but we're hopeful it's just a minor strain."

Captain Stirling Mortlock will see his first trial action for 2006 and will line up alongside Wallabies' year-end tour representatives Mark Chisholm, George Smith and Mark Gerrard, who will each play for the first time since returning from Europe in early December.

Towering new back row recruit Daniel Heenan will wear Brumbies colours for the first time this Friday.

For Heenan, it has been a long wait to return to the playing field after having ankle surgery mid-way through the 2005 season, but the 115kg Queenslander is looking forward to his first match since May of last year.

"I haven't played since Week Eight of last season so I'm looking forward to finally getting back on the field," Heenan said.

"I haven't felt the injury [ankle syndesmosis] at all during the pre-season and the strength and conditioning program has been excellent so I'm feeling in great nick and can't wait to play," he said.

Fisher has also retained a number of his emerging players for the match, including flanker Ben White, who was among the team's top performers against the Waratahs last Saturday.

Rookie centre Anthony Faingaa will have another opportunity to showcase his talents, while impressive academy backs Francis Fainifo and Christian Lealiifano have earned a second trial appearance after making some eye-catching involvement during Saturday's loss to the Waratahs.

Hooker David Palavi and giant back rower Jone Tawake will also make their first appearances for the 2006 pre-season.

Tawake, who started on two occasions at No.8 during last year's Super 12, is a major contender for a position in the Brumbies' starting fifteen and is entering the 2006 competition in the best physical condition of his career.

"I've worked very hard over the pre-season to shed a few kilos and it has really helped with my mobility," said Tawake.

"I have been injured during the pre-season in the past couple of years and haven't been able to do a lot, but this season I was able to do a lot of work and get my fitness levels right up."

"I'm very keen to show the coaches that I belong in the starting team," he said.

Brumbies squad:

Forwards: Nic Henderson, Bill Young, Guy Shepherdson, David Palavi, Alister Campbell, Mark Chisholm, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Jone Tawake, Daniel Heenan, Ben White, Julian Salvi, Richard Stanford, George Smith

Backs: Luke Burgess, Patrick Phibbs, Gene Fairbanks, Joel Wilson, Mark Gerrard, Tim Curran, Anthony Faingaa, Ben Batger, Stirling Mortlock (captain), Christian Lealiifano, Francis Fainifo, Adam Ashley-Cooper

* A replacement for Jeremy Paul to be named.

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