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McCaffrey replaces injured Samu for Brumbies in semi-final

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BUENOSAIRES (Reuters) – Loose forward Lachlan McCaffrey will start at number eight for the ACT Brumbies in place of the injured Pete Samu in the Super Rugby semi-final against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Friday.

McCaffrey had been expected to come in for Samu, having replaced the Wallabies loose forward last week in the 38-13 quarter-final victory over the Sharks in Canberra.

Samu scored two tries in the quarter-final but was replaced at halftime after he felt tightness in his hamstring and Brumbies coach Dan McKellar did not want to risk him with the travel to Argentina and short turnaround between games.

The 29-year-old McCaffrey is the only change to the starting lineup from last week.

Brumbies captain Christian Lealiifano, in his last season for the Brumbies before heading to Japan, will make his 150th Super Rugby appearance for the team in the semi-final.

Only former prop Ben Alexander (154) has played more games for the Canberra-based side than Lealiifano, who battled leukaemia in 2016 but returned to rugby the following year after treatment.

McKellar has opted for a six-two split between forwards and backs on the bench against the Argentine team, who are one of the best-finishing sides in the competition.

The Jaguares have scored the most tries (21) in the final quarter of their matches this season and have conceded just eight — the second-lowest in the competition.

Replacement prop Leslie Leuluaiali’i-Makin will make his 50th appearance for the team when he gets on the field.

The Canterbury Crusaders host the Wellington Hurricanes in an all-New Zealand semi-final on Saturday.

ACT Brumbies: 15-Tom Banks, 14-Henry Speight, 13-Tevita Kuridrani, 12-Irae Simone, 11-Toni Pulu, 10-Christian Lealiifano, 9-Joe Powell, 8-Lachlan McCaffrey, 7-Tom Cusack, 6-Rob Valetini, 5-Sam Carter, 4-Rory Arnold, 3-Allan Alaalatoa, 2-Folau Fainga’a, 1-Scott Sio.

Replacements: 16-Connal McInerney, 17-James Slipper, 18-Leslie Leuluaiali’i-Makin, 19-Darcy Swain, 20-Murray Douglas, 21-Jahrome Brown, 22-Matt Lucas, 23-Tom Wright.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Ian Ransom)

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