Fardy omitted in Brumbies selection shock
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has produced a major selection shock by omitting Wallabies hard man Scott Fardy, explaining it as a "tactical decision".
It is a brave and curious tactical decision, just two matches into the Super Rugby season, with the Brumbies winless and badly needing victory against Australian conference rivals Western Force at home on Friday night.
The rugged 39-Test flanker did not even make the bench and was replaced in the Brumbies' starting line-up by Ben Hyne, who will be playing only his second Super Rugby match.
Larkham said on Wednesday that Fardy wasn't injured, although he did hyper-extend an elbow in last Saturday's home loss to the Sharks.
"That's a tactical decision - there's no injury there with Fards," Larkham said.
"It's just making sure that we maintain the motivation in the group and keep the energy out there on the field."
Outstanding in the season-opening loss to the Crusaders, Fardy's departure to join Irish club Leinster at the end of the season was announced a day before the last Saturday's 27-22 home loss to the Sharks.
Larkham also stressed he was looking at resting players because of a six-day turnaround.
But prop Nic Mayhew, replaced by Wallabies stalwart Ben Alexander, was the only other player from last Saturday's run-on side omitted and he was still included on the bench.
"Fards (Fardy) has had two tremendous games, but Ben Hyne has also had some really good performances in both the pre-season trials and the (Brumbies) Runners games and he's been performing exceptionally at training as well, so he's been really knocking on the door," Larkham said.
"Fards went down in the game on the weekend; he pulled up really well out of that injury.
"But it just makes sense for us on a six-day turnaround to try and freshen up some of the guys.
"We're looking at the whole season as well as giving guys opportunities when they deserve it."
Hyne who turned 23 this week, played just four minutes in his only game for the Brumbies in 2016 before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
"He's worked really hard, he's been very motivated though the pre-season," Larkham said.
Alexander will form part of an all-Wallabies front row alongside fellow prop Allan Alaalatoa and hooker Josh Mann-Rea.
"We've shifted Benny back to the loosehead side which he probably hasn't started in for five years or so, but he's shown really good energy at training; he's scrummaging well at training," Lakham said.
Brumbies: Aidan Toua, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Kyle Godwin, James Dargaville, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Jordan Smiler, Chris Alcock, Ben Hyne, Sam Carter (capt), Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Josh Mann-Rea, Ben Alexander. Res: Robbie Abel, Nic Mayhew, Leslie Leulua'iali'i-Makin, Blake Enever, Tom Staniforth, Lolo Fakaosilea, De Wet Roos, Andrew Smith.