RUGBY UNION: Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has explained the shock call to omit Wallabies hard man Scott Fardy as a "tactical decision".
It is a brave and curious decision, just two matches into the Super Rugby season, with the Brumbies winless and badly needing victory against Australian conference rivals the 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 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 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 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."
Meanwhile, Force lock Adam Coleman has been ruled out for five weeks with a leg injury.
Coleman tore his left calf during last week's 26-19 Super Rugby win over Queensland but coach Dave Wessels says he's thankful the injury isn't more serious.
The Force will be aiming to make it two wins on the trot when they face the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday night but flanker Matt Hodgson will also be missing due to a hamstring complaint.
Wessels has made three changes to his starting side.
Pek Cowan, Tetera Faulkner and Richard Hardwick all come back into the starting XV, with Coleman, Ben Daley and Jermaine Ainsley dropping out.
"It's a massive challenge this week," Wessels said.
"We haven't beaten the Brumbies since 2013 and we've not won back-to-back games since 2014 and although we were very pleased to win our first game at home last week against the Reds, we know we have a lot of improvements to make.
"The Brumbies have been very competitive in their first two games of the year, so we know the challenge that awaits us in Canberra."
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