Chris Dutton June 12, 2012
Brumbies player Ben Hand will captain the side against Wales tomorrow night at Canberra Stadium, in what could be his last game for the club. Photo: Melissa Adams
Veteran ACT Brumbies lock Ben Hand will use tonight's match against Wales to farewell Canberra after the toughest season of his career.
Despite playing just 50 minutes of Super Rugby this season, Hand will lead a young Brumbies side into action against the Six Nations champions at Canberra Stadium.
Brumbies coach Jake White will use the contest to see which of his players will come into selection contention for a charge to the finals.
With the Brumbies' lock stocks of Sam Carter, Scott Fardy and Leon Power performing well, Hand is resigned to prematurely saying goodbye to the capital.
The 30-year-old played every match in his first three years at the Brumbies and was established in the second row.
But with White building for the future, Hand has been called on to play just once this year in the Brumbies' win over the Free State Cheetahs in March.
Frustrated by sitting on the sideline, he has signed a deal with French club Grenoble to leave Canberra at the end of the season.
While there are three Super Rugby games remaining before the finals, Hand said the team's impressive form would likely make the mid-week tour match his last for the Brumbies.
''With the team going so well you obviously want to be a part of it and it's tough watching in the stands or on television,'' Hand said.
''I think the guys are doing a good job at the moment so I don't see this is a chance for me to push my claims for selection again.
''This has definitely been a tough period … at the start of the year I was down and out but now I've got my head around it and helping the boys prepare each week.
''I'm training as hard as I can … the way I'm picturing this game is my last one in Canberra and to be captaining the side makes it even a little bit more special.
''I've had four great years here and after a bit of a tough year it's a really nice way to finish off for myself.''
Both Wales and the Brumbies will go into the match with untested combinations.
Half of the Brumbies' squad has played less than 10 Super Rugby games or are yet to make their debut.
Wales has just one player - lock Luke Charteris - backing up from the 27-19 Test loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane last Saturday night.
Coach Rob Howley has called in Melbourne Rebels skipper Gareth Delve from outside the original 34-man squad.
Howley said the clash with the Brumbies was a ''test of character'' for his players.
''We are a game down, but we still have all to play for in this series and Tuesday night is the perfect opportunity for this squad of players to move on [from losing to the Wallabies],'' Howley said.
''We have one or two bumps and bruises and we are expecting players to 'back-up' after playing a tough Test match and go out there 72 hours later and play for their country. That is exactly what touring is all about.''
Despite the lack of experience in the Brumbies' side, Hand said the youthful squad would not suffer.
Two Tuggeranong Vikings players - JP Pradaud and Beau Mokotupu - will be thrown into the professional arena and White is confident his young players can rise to the challenge.
''These guys have waited and held the tackle bags at training and waited and waited and now they get a chance against some flipping good players,'' White said.
''They get a chance for the Brumbies and get to play some international players which is a massive ask for some young boys.
''I think we get to try different combinations … there is a pathway for players who come to Canberra and a chance to make a name for themselves.
''There's no reason if they come down and play here they won't get an opportunity like this.''
The Brumbies' next match is away to the Western Force on June 30.