Beale debuts, Rodda returns for Force as Reds reshuffle

Murray Wenzel |

Kurtley Beale is set to play his first Super Rugby match in more than four years.
Kurtley Beale is set to play his first Super Rugby match in more than four years.

Kurtley Beale will play his first Super Rugby match in more than four years after the 95-Test Wallaby was named at fullback for the Western Force to face the Crusaders.

The 35-year-old was picked up as an injury replacement by the Force after being cleared of sexual assault in February, allegations he always denied. 

The former Waratahs talent, who last played in France for Racing 92 in 2022, still harbours hope of a Test return.

And he’ll get his chance to impress new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt alongside another welcome Force return in lock Izack Rodda (quad).

He and Michael Wells (knee) will start on the bench at HBF Park for the 1-6 side, thumped 50-3 by the Blues in their last start a fortnight ago.

The undermanned Reds are trying to avoid a fourth straight loss when they host the Highlanders at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.

Coach Les Kiss has left out promising playmaker Harry McLaughlin-Phillips, in favour of starting No.10 Tom Lynagh and Lawson Creighton on the bench.

Losing Fraser McReight and Tate McDermott to suspension, as well as Seru Uru (thumb) and Josh Flook (shoulder) to injury has forced six changes to the starting side.

Hardworking Irishman Cormac Daly will start for the first time in place of Uru, while Jordan Petaia fills the void of Flook, who is understood not to require surgery, at outside centre.

Mac Grealy is back on the wing while rookie John Bryant will take McReight’s No.7 jersey and Kalana Thomas will start at halfback, with halfback Louis Werchon and back-rower Joe Brial a chance of Super Rugby debuts off the bench.

The ACT Brumbies will head to Eden Park to face the Blues on Saturday led by fill-in skipper Ryan Lonergan.

Lonergan missed the side’s 40-16 win against the NSW Waratahs before their bye with an ankle injury.

Powerful prop Blake Schoupp is also an inclusion, named on the bench for what would be his first appearance since round four after a shoulder injury.

Coach Stephen Larkam has continued to rotate his stacked forward pack, starting Cadeyrn Neville and Jahrome Brown, with Wallabies talents Nick Frost and Tom Hooper to come off the bench.

Bench playmaker Jack Debreczeni is also set for just his second appearance of the year, continuing his return from a long-term foot injury after playing 10 minutes against the Waratahs.

The Waratahs and Rebels both have byes after stirring last-start wins.

AAP