Slipper to become Australia’s most-capped Super player

Darren Walton |

James Slipper will etch his name in the history books when he returns to the Brumbies’ starting XV.
James Slipper will etch his name in the history books when he returns to the Brumbies’ starting XV.

Veteran prop James Slipper will etch his name in the history books when he returns to the Brumbies’ starting XV for Saturday night’s pivotal Super Rugby Pacific derby against the Queensland Reds.

The 34-year-old will equal fellow former Wallabies captain Stephen Moore’s record for most Super Rugby caps by an Australian with a 177th as the Brumbies strive to keep the Reds at bay at Suncorp Stadium.

The third-placed ACT outfit are three competition points ahead of the fifth-placed Reds as the leading Australian team on the ladder a third of the way through the competition.

Slipper has been coming off the bench but, along with hooker Lachlan Lonergan, will return to the starting front row alongside Sosefo Kautai. 

Fresh off a nine-try, 60-21 rout of Moana Pasifika, the Brumbies are also hoping to retain the Rod McQueen Cup with victory over the Reds.

Dual international Suliasi Vunivalu is the biggest casualty from Queensland’s shock 40-31 loss to the last-placed Western Force, dumped to the Reds bench to make way for 2023 World Cup teammate Jordan Petaia. 

Coach Les Kiss has also opted to rest teenage five-eighth Harry McLaughlin-Phillips after a strong start to the season, with Lawson Creighton replacing the 19-year-old on the bench.

The NSW Waratahs welcome back classy backs Will Harrison and Lalakai Foketi for the Good Friday hosting of the Melbourne Rebels at Allianz Stadium.

Will Harrison
Will Harrison is set to play his first Super Rugby game for the Waratahs in 707 days. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

The pair’s return – via the bench at the expense of Triston Reilly and Fergus Lee-Warner – for their first games of 2024 is reward for resilience and mental strength.

After a series of heartbreaking injuries, Harrison will make his first Super Rugby game in 707 days, while Foketi was hospitalised with a neck injury during the pre-season.

But after being cleared of any serious cervical spine injuries, Foketi has fought his way back into the team.

“It’s great news,” assistant coach Chris Whitaker said on Wednesday.

“They both received a big cheer in the team meeting when the team was announced.

“They’ve both obviously had different injury setbacks, but they’ve both shown a lot of mental fortitude and strength of character to come back from their injuries.

“They boys saw Lalakai taken away in an ambulance, which was quite frightening for them, so they’re happy to see him back. He gives us a lot of experience in that backline and the boys love to play with him.

“It’s been a long battle for Will Harrison. It’s so good to see him back.

“The boys have seen him in here every day working on his injuries. He’s raring to go and he’s a little terrier who will give us plenty of energy.”

The Rebels will be without influential but injured fullback Andrew Kellaway, while Sevens young gun Darby Lancaster will make his debut on the wing.

Former Wallabies lock Sam Carter will make his debut for the Force, who are looking to back up their win over the Reds with victory over the Fijian Drua in Lautoka, where the Waratahs lost 39-36 in extra time last Saturday.

But Force captain Jeremy Williams is out on Saturday with a calf strain that will sideline the second-rower for up to three weeks.

AAP