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    Rebels make 2 changes for crucial Blues clash

    2018-05-31 09:00

    Cape Town - Prop Jermaine Ainsley and back-rower Ross Haylett-Petty will make their Super Rugby returns, as the Rebels make two changes for their trip to Auckland to face the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday.

    Ainsley returns after missing the Rebels' win over the Sunwolves while experienced tighthead Sam Talakai shifts to the reserves.

    Haylett-Petty returns for his first match at Super Rugby level since suffering concussion during the match against the Bulls in Pretoria and will start on the bench.

    Winger Sefa Naivalu - who was last night included in the Wallabies squad for the Ireland Series - and last week's debutant, Pone Fa'amausili have both been omitted from this week's team.

    "We've worked hard over the last couple of weeks on our ability to finish games strongly - this is due in large part to the work our conditioning staff have put into the team as well as the impressive impact our bench has made in recent weeks. They've come on and really wanted to rattle the cage," said Melbourne Rebels head coach, Dave Wessels.

    "Guys like LT (Lopeti Timani) and Syd (Geoff Parling) have been particularly impressive in this regard.

    "It's great to have Ross (Haylett-Petty) coming back in. He trained really well this week and effectively forced us to pick him. He gives us flexibility in the back five and is obviously fit and powerful. We look forward to seeing his impact."

    The Melbourne Rebels are also delighted with the selection of eight players into the Wallabies squad for the Ireland Series - the most ever for a Rebels side.

    "We're obviously very proud of the players that have been picked to represent Australia - and a number of others that came very close," Wessels said.

    "We had constructive discussion with the Wallabies coaches and decided in the best interests of Australian rugby that it was better to give Willy (Genia) another week off to ensure he's 100 percent ready for the June Tests.

    "But the decision was obviously made easier by the fact that Michael Ruru has been in such good form lately. We're looking forward to the challenge this weekend."

    Kick-off on Saturday is at 07:15 SA time.

    Teams:

    Blues

    15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Sonny Bill Williams/Terrence Hepetema, 11 Tumua Manu, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (c), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Matiaha Martin, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Alex Hodgman

    Substitutes: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Ben Nee-Nee, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane/Terrence Hepetema

    Rebels

    15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman (captain), 4 Matt Philipm 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Fereti Sa'aga

    Substitutes: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Tayler Adams, 23 Lopeti Timani

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