Championship-winning veteran Clyde Rathbone could be thrust into a surprise Super Rugby appearance in Perth as the ACT Brumbies juggle early injuries.
Brumbies flyer Joseph Tomane will be out for one or two weeks with a foot injury while Andrew Smith and Robbie Coleman are being eased into training after suffering head knocks last weekend.
If Coleman is fit he will replace Tomane on the wing in the Brumbies’ clash with the Western Force at nib Stadium on Saturday night.
Rathbone will be on standby as an emergency, but the Brumbies are confident both Smith and Coleman will be ready for the round-two contest.
Wallabies outside centre Tevita Kuridrani is also pushing for a starting spot and could be injected after serving a five-match International Rugby Board suspension for a lifting tackle.
Rathbone’s season preparations were hindered by a slight hamstring injury and illness, but he returned to training this week and is ready to play if called on.
The Brumbies are aiming for their first win of the season and will name their team on Thursday before flying to Perth.
Former Brumbies playmaker Zack Holmes is expected to get his chance against his ex-teammates.
Holmes was the Brumbies’ flyhalf saviour in the 2012 season when both Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano suffered season-ending injuries.
But the 23-year-old played just two games last season, forced to bide his time on the bench as Toomua, Lealiifano and Pat McCabe led the Brumbies’ charge to the final.
Holmes signed a deal with the Force and has been working with fellow ex-Brumby Ian Prior to help the Perth-based team plot the ACT’s downfall.
”The main reason I came to the Force was opportunity,” Holmes said.
”I didn’t think I was going to get much of an opportunity staying in Canberra. I’ve got my chance here and now I’ve got to take it.
”I got a taste of it [in 2012] and you want to stay there. When you don’t get that chance it is frustrating … I want to be back in that Super Rugby arena and I think I’ve got the ability to do it.”
The Force was trounced 43-21 in its season-opener against the NSW Waratahs last week.
The Brumbies were also well below their best, losing to the Queensland Reds 27-17.
Holmes, who scored 79 points in 10 games for the Brumbies, described the Force’s round-one loss as a ”blip on the radar”.
He expects to cop on-field sledging from his former Brumbies teammates, but declared he was ready to lead a Super Rugby team to victory.
The Brumbies are expected to make minimal changes to their line-up, despite the round-one defeat.
If Rathbone isn’t needed in Perth, he will play for the ACT XV against the Argentina Pampas in the Pacific Rugby Cup at Duntroon on Sunday.