Melbourne - Former Wallaby and Reds star Quade Cooper will make his debut for the Melbourne Rebels against the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.
It will be the first opportunity for fans to get to see halves duo
Will Genia and Cooper link up together for the first time in Rebels
colours, with both players named to start at 9 and 10 respectively.
Cooper leads a list of five new faces for the Rebels, with former
Brumbies players Isi Naisarani and Robbie Abel named to face their old
side, with Naisarani to start at No 8, while Abel will begin on
the bench as the reserve hooker.
Rounding out the list of potential debutants is Shute Shield player
Matt Gibbon and former Reds and Waratahs player Brad Wilkin, with both
forwards earning a spot in the reserves.
After three years abroad at French club Bordeaux, returning Rebel
Luke Jones, who played 72 games for the franchise between 2011-2016,
will slot straight back into the starting XV, after being named at lock.
Promising forward Richard Hardwick will have the tough task of going
head to head with David Pocock, after the Wallabies flanker was named to
start despite concerns a strained calf could keep the Brumbies
vice-captain out of the season opener.
Lock Adam Coleman was unable to overcome an injury sustained from the
recent 10-day Wallabies camp, while Reece Hodge has been given further
time to come back from his ankle injury.
Rebels head coach Dave Wessels says he is excited by the arrival of
Round 1, with the squad raring to go after putting in the hard work
required over the pre-season.
“It’s obviously exciting to get underway but going up to Canberra, it’s not an easy challenge,” Wessels said.
“We’ve got to turn up. We’ve done a great job of keeping everything
simple and how we compete every day and get a little bit better, all of
the players have really bought into that.”
While it may be the start of the new season, the Rebels and Brumbies
have already acquainted themselves in 2019 when the two sides played a
trial match in Canberra in January, with the ACT side coming out 52-38
However, Wessels has not read into the result too much for Friday’s
game, saying the two sides will look vastly different when they face off
at GIO Stadium.
“A couple of our players didn’t play in it and a couple of their players didn’t play in it too,” he said.
“Everyone holds everything back during the trials, so you don’t get much of a read, but we are ready for the challenge.”
15 Tom Banks,
14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu,
10 Christian Lealiifano (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey,
7 David Pocock, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan
Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper
Substitutes: 16 Josh
Mann-Rea, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Blake Enever,
20 Peter Samu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Andy Muirhead
Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12
Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi
Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Luke
Jones, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetra Faulkner
16 Robbie Abel, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Esi Ha’angana, 20
Brad Wilkin, 21 Rob Leota, 22 Michael Ruru, 23 Semisi Tupou