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Valetini back for Brumbies but Ikitau banned for Super semi-final

Valetini back for Brumbies but Ikitau banned for Super semi-final

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Autumn International - Wales v Australia - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Britain - November 20, 2021 Australia's Len Ikitau in action with Wales' Nick Tompkins Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

MELBOURNE :The ACT Brumbies have welcomed back loose forward Rob Valetini but lost centre Len Ikitau to suspension for the Super Rugby semi-final against the high-flying Auckland Blues on Saturday.

Valetini will start at number eight in the clash at Eden Park, with Pete Samu switching to openside flanker and Tom Hooper retaining his spot on the blindside.

Ikitau was suspended for three weeks on Wednesday after being red-carded for a high tackle on Wellington Hurricanes flyhalf Aidan Morgan in the quarter-final in Canberra over the weekend.

The Brumbies contested the red card at a hearing on Tuesday but the judicial panel found Ikitau guilty of a dangerous tackle.

Ollie Sapsford comes into the starting side in the centres alongside Irae Simone.

Ikitau's ban also casts doubt over his role for the Wallabies in July internationals against England.

Australia play Eddie Jones's team in a three-test series next month and Ikitau would likely have been in Dave Rennie's squad.

The Brumbies, Australia's only semi-finalists in Super Rugby this year, will need to beat the Blues at their Eden Park base for the first time since 2013 to reach the title-decider.

The Canterbury Crusaders host the Waikato Chiefs in the other semi-final in Christchurch on Friday.

Chiefs co-captain Sam Cane will return from a knee injury from the bench, while Josh Ioane will start at fullback in place of an ill Emoni Narawa.

The Crusaders have made only one change to the starting side that beat the Queensland Reds in the quarter-finals, bringing Tom Christie in place of Ethan Blackadder, who was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a dislocated shoulder.

Source: Reuters


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