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    Melbourne Rebels change 7 for Sharks

    2018-03-21 09:45

    Cape Town - Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels has made seven changes to his starting line-up for Friday's match against the Sharks in Melbourne.

    Kick-off is at 10:45 SA time.

    Wessels has named lock Geoff Parling, flank Colby Fainga’a and centre Billy Meakes for their first starts of the 2018 Super Rugby season.

    Dane Haylett-Petty and Ben Daley were unavailable for selection after the pair failed to meet the minimum return to play concussion protocols due to the short five-day turnaround following the loss to the Waratahs in Sydney on Sunday.

    The injuries have forced a shuffle to the backline with the Fijian flyers Sefa Naivalu and Marika Koroibete to occupy the wings in tandem for the first time this season while Jack Maddocks has been shifted to fullback.

    Meakes will start at inside centre, alongside Reece Hodge, after he impressed in his early introduction off the bench on Sunday after Haylett-Petty suffered a head knock in the opening 15 minutes against the Waratahs.

    Parling will make his first start in his second appearance for the Rebels after a concussion in his Super Rugby debut in the victory over the Sunwolves sidelined the former England international lock since Round 3.

    After he missed Sunday’s game against the Waratahs with illness, Angus Cottrell will return to the starting line-up along with Fainga’a.

    A hamstring injury to Jordan Uelese will again sideline the young hooker with Anaru Rangi to start and Mahe Vailanu, who made his Super Rugby debut last week, gets his second opportunity off the bench on Friday.

    Daley’s unavailability sees young prop Fereti Sa’aga promoted to the matchday 23 for his third appearance off the bench this season.

    “The Sharks are a big and strong physical pack so we’ve added freshness and experience to our starting line-up with Geoff (Parling), Colby (Fainga’a) and Gus (Cottrell),” Wessels said.

    “Sefa (Naivalu) and Marika (Koroibete) give us some genuine speed out wide.

    “We were pleased with Billy’s work rate and intensity off the bench last week as an early substitute for Dane so he’s earned the opportunity to start.”

    The Rebels are looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season when they host the Sharks at AAMI Park for the first time since 2014.

    The last time these two sides faced off, the Rebels and Sharks played out a 9-9 draw at Kings Park in Durban in Round 9, 2017.

    “We’ve played some really good rugby this year and I think we’re happy with where the team is at,” Wessels said.

    “Our job is to go out there and focus on our equivalent of running a 9.9 second 100m race. If a team comes along and runs a 9.8 second then they deserve to win. But our focus is on producing our best performance consistently.

    “We didn’t do that on Sunday, but Friday gives us the opportunity to put that right.”

    Teams:

    Melbourne Rebels

    15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Will Genia, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman (captain), 4 Geoff Parling, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner 

    Substitutes: 16 Mahe Vailanu, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Richard Hardwick, 22 Michael Ruru, 23 Tom English

    Sharks

    TBA

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