Rugby-Scrumhalves White and Cubelli duel for place in Super Rugby AU final

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Eight years after first facing off in a test match, Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White and his Argentina counterpart Tomas Cubelli will duel again when the Western Force and ACT Brumbies clash in the Super Rugby AU semi-final on Saturday.

The playmaking pair were denied an international matchup during last year's "Tri-Nations" tournament, with Cubelli a late withdrawal from Argentina's squad due to injury.

But Cubelli has played a key role in setting up Saturday's big-match reunion, helping Western Force snatch three tight wins in succession to book the playoff against White's Brumbies.

Cubelli will again look to engineer a finals victory over his former team, the Brumbies, who are also the defending champions.

Cubelli succeeded White as the Brumbies' number nine in 2016 after the Australian headed to Europe to broaden his rugby horizons.

The Argentine reached the post-season twice with the Brumbies in 2016-17 but was unable to win a playoff.

After leaving the Brumbies to join the Jaguares, Cubelli was instrumental in guiding the Argentines to a 39-7 win over the Canberra side in the 2019 Super Rugby semi-finals.

"It’s a good feeling. It’s what we chase ... the privilege of being able to feel those sensations," 76-test Cubelli said this week of playing finals.

"You still get that feeling of anxiousness and nerves."

White faced Cubelli for the first time when he debuted in the Wallabies' number nine shirt in 2013 and savoured a 14-13 victory over the Pumas in driving rain in Perth.

He has since built a lop-sided winning record against Cubelli in internationals and helped the Brumbies win both matches against the Argentine's team in Super Rugby AU this season.

As part of a Brumbies side that has ruled Australian rugby for much of the past decade, White expects the dominance to continue at Canberra Stadium on Saturday.

"Cubelli, we know from his few years here as well (and) the threats he has," said White.

"He's a threat around that breakdown, he's extremely strong.

"The energy's pretty high ... We're excited for the challenge."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Toby Davis)