Cape Town - Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made several changes to
his matchday squad for Saturday's clash with the Crusaders in
Hooker James Hanson, flyhalf Jack Debreczeni and wing Tom English
are the only three players to retain their positions from last weekend’s
defeat to the Stormers.
The Rebels have named also two Victorians in their matchday squad for
the first time in the club’s history with the inclusions of Sione
Tuipulotu and Rob Leota.
Tuipulotu, who has made four appearances for the Rebels, will make
his first start since his debut against the Reds in Round Three while
the uncapped Leota is a step closer to making his Super Rugby debut
after being named on the bench for the first time in his career.
In total, seven changes have been made to the starting XV with
captain Nic Stirzaker, Laurie Weeks, Adam Thomson and Mike Harris
returning from injury while Sam Jeffries, Culum Retallick and Tuipulotu
have been promoted.
Retallick will make his run-on debut for the Rebels, Weeks returns to
the starting line-up for the first time after a hamstring injury
sidelined the prop since Round 9 and Jeffries makes his third career
Super Rugby start.
After starting the last two games at tighthead prop, Toby Smith
returns to loosehead while Colby Fainga’a moves to flanker alongside
Jordy Reid as Thomson starts at number eight.
Stirzaker and Harris, both unavailable for the Stormers game with
ankle injuries, return to scrumhalf and fullback, respectively, with
Reece Hodge shifted to Inside Centre and Sefa Naivalu to the right wing.
Sean McMahon will miss his first Rebels game since Round 13, 2015
while locks Luke Jones and Lopeti Timani have failed to overcome
first-half concussions sustained last weekend.
“The inclusion of Sione and Rob is a historic milestone for the
Melbourne Rebels and a fitting reward for the hard work of everyone
behind the scenes in Victorian Rugby to develop local talent,” said
“Unfortunately injuries have been the story of our season, which has
made weekly team selection a challenge throughout the year, but it
continues to provide opportunities for others.
“Numbers were touch and go at the start of the week but we’re pleased
to welcome back a wealth of experience in Nic, Laurie, Adam and Mike
for arguably the hardest road trip in Super Rugby against the
Paul Asquith has retained his spot on the bench after making his
debut last weekend and Steve Cummins has been included as a reserve for
the first time since Round Two against the Bulls in Pretoria.
The Rebels claimed their only victory on New Zealand soil with a
20-10 win when they last met the Crusaders across the Tasman - the only
Australian side to claim victory in Christchurch in 12 years.
Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 David Havili, 11
Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Jimmy Tupou, 7 Matt
Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3
Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Alex Hodgman
Substitutes: 16 Ben
Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete
Samo, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitch Hunt, 23 Kieran Fonotia
15 Mike Harris, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Reece Hodge, 11
Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Adam Thomson, 7
Colby Fainga’a, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Sam Jeffries, 3
Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith
Substitutes: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Paul Asquith, 23 Jonah Placid