Amid a week of soul-searching for Stephen Larkham’s men, the Brumbies have received a massive boost ahead of Saturday’s home clash against the ladder-leading Hurricanes with Wallabies stars Allan Alaalatoa and Len Ikitau to return from injuries.

The Roar understands the Test duo will start against the Hurricanes, with Larkham not wasting any time in calling upon their services after last weekend’s reality check after the Blues.

Alaalatoa, who is one of the favourites to take on the full-time captaincy of the Wallabies, will play his first match since suffering his devastating Achilles injury against the All Blacks at the MCG in their Bledisloe opener last July.

His absence from last year’s World Cup campaign was arguably the Wallabies’ biggest blow, with the 30-year-old’s experience, work rate and set-piece prowess something Eddie Jones’ men never recovered from.

Allan Alaalatoa is set to make his return for the Brumbies in their big clash against the Hurricanes. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

He isn’t the only big-name set to return, with Ikitau and outside back Andy Muirhead in line to make their returns after missing the past month with knee injuries.

Ikitau, who was controversially left out of last year’s World Cup, will give the Brumbies some poise in the backline as they prepare for a crucial home clash against the unbeaten Hurricanes. It will be the first time the two sides have met since the Brumbies controversially knocked the Hurricanes out in last year’s quarter-final.

No side has scored more tries than the Hurricanes (43) in 2024 and Ikitau’s presence will help in a bid to contain Jordie Barrett and his fellow backline aces Ruben Love, Joshua Moorby, Kini Haolo and, of course, the tournament’s greatest tryscorer TJ Perenara.

While the Hurricanes’ ability to break the line (68 clear breaks, which is second behind the Chiefs 69) has lit up the competition, Clark Laidlaw’s men also lead the way with their tackle completion (88%) – seven per cent higher than the Brumbies.

The near top-of-the-table clash comes after the Brumbies (third) were hammered 46-7 by the second-placed Blues at Eden Park.

The Brumbies were hammered by the Blues at Eden Park last week. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

There, at the All Blacks’ home venue, the Brumbies failed to capitalise on an early yellow card and several raids inside the Blues’ attacking zone before the wheels fell off either side of half time.

It was the second heavy loss for the Brumbies in 2024, which came six weeks after their heavy loss to the fourth-placed Chiefs in Melbourne.

Interim skipper Ryan Lonergan, who had one of the toughest nights of his career, said the Brumbies weren’t under any illusions of the task ahead following a “good, honest review” after being physically dominated.

“You never want to roll over,” he said.

“If we took a few opportunities early on, keep ourselves in the game [it could have been different].

“I don’t want to say that we rolled over on the weekend, the Chiefs maybe a little bit, but it’s definitely an attitude thing that we can fix up.

“It was only 7-0 after 25-30 minutes, it was a steep decline in the second half, so there’s definitely a mental side of it and we’ll try to train that this week.”  

Wallaby-capped hooker Connal McInerney said it was clear the Brumbies needed to match the physicality of New Zealand’s sides to quickly get back on the horse.

“We just spoke about if you don’t win the physical battle, especially against these Kiwi teams, you’re not going to give yourself much of a chance,” he said.

“We just spoke about the opportunities during training, being more physical and a lot of the onus was on our ball carrier. We’ve got to fix things; scrum, lineout and maul.”

Helping the Brumbies’ cause is the MCL injury in-form Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua, which will see him miss up to two months.

Meanwhile, the Waratahs are expected to make several changes to their side to take on the Blues on Friday night in Sydney.

Mark Nawaqanitawase is set to return for the Waratahs against the Chiefs. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Roosters-bound Wallabies winger Mark Nawaqanitawase is expected to return after being left out for the win over the Crusaders.

Somewhat surprisingly though, it’s believed he will come in for Dylan Pietsch, with Triston Reilly given another crack.

Ned Hanigan is also expected to feature in the back-row, with Miles Amatoseo firming to start alongside Hugh Sinclair in the second-row. Jed Holloway and Langi Gleeson are expected to come off the bench.

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