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McCabe set to return for final trial match
ESPN Staff
February 10, 2014
A successful return by McCabe would help alleviate the Brumbies backs crisis © Getty Images
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Brumbies star Pat McCabe is set to return to action in the side's final trial against an ACT XV on Friday after being cleared to return from a head knock. McCabe lasted just 15 minutes in his return to rugby after seven months on the sidelines.

The Wallabies star left the field in a daze in the Brumbies opening trial against the Highlanders on January 31, his first match after a serious neck injury kept him on the sidelines for the back end of the 2013 season. The Brumbies took off the 25-year-old as a precaution and he sat out Saturday's 67-0 trial win over an ACT XV side.

Given incumbent inside centre Christian Leali'ifano isn't due back from an ankle injury until round five, a successful return by McCabe could alleviate a mini backs crisis at the Brumbies. McCabe and Japanese recruit Harumichi Tatekawa are among the contenders to win the No.12 jersey for the season-opener against the Reds on February 22.

''With Christian out for a small period of time, Pat McCabe will play next week,'' director of rugby Laurie Fisher told Rugby Heaven. ''We need to see how Pat goes, we need options.''

On top of Leali'ifano's absence, Wallabies outside centre Tevita Kuridrani is due to return from suspension in round one, but his lack of preseason game time could see him eased off the bench. Fisher also insisted that Henry Speight would be 100 per cent ready for game one, despite bruising ribs against the ACT XV.

''He was X-rayed last night and it cleared him of any damage, so it looks like just bruising,'' Fisher said. ''There's some discomfort, we're likely to rest him next week and by all accounts he'll be 100 per cent ready for game one. He's an unbelievable athlete. He doesn't need to play much rugby, he just needs to have his head in the right place.''

Brumbies captain Ben Mowen was also pleased with the return of Wallabies flanker David Pocock, saying it's taken just two games for his return to international standard.

''It was hard not to keep an eye on him [during the game] because he was turning over so much ball,'' Mowen said. ''I thought he was back to where he's been at international standard.''

Pocock showed no signs of the knee injury that cruelled last season during the trial thrashing of the ACT XV.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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