Rebels welcome back Stirzaker
Melbourne - The Rebels have made five changes to the starting line-up for Saturday night’s clash with the undefeated Crusaders at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Rebels head coach Tony McGahan welcomes back captain Nic Stirzaker, Tom English and Sefa Naivalu from injury, while Colby Fainga’a returns to the starting line-up and Lopeti Timani shifted to lock.
Stirzaker will lead the side after an ankle injury sidelined the scrumhalf for four weeks while outside centre English and wing Naivalu missed last week’s game against the Waratahs.
Fainga’a will make his first start since Round 10 after a quad injury saw the flank miss the games against the Lions and Reds before a return off the bench against the Waratahs.
“We’re all excited at the Rebels with the team selected this week,” McGahan said. “To have robust discussions around some positions was welcomed by the coaches.”
“We have let ourselves down this season in the final minutes of the first and second halves with basic skill errors and game management so we aim to eliminate those situations against the competition’s leaders.”
McGahan has named an unchanged frontrow with Toby Smith, James Hanson and Tyrel Lomax for the second consecutive week.
Reece Hodge has been named at inside centre but must complete the concussion protocols after he suffered a head knock in the opening minute of last weekend’s match against the Waratahs in a tackle on Israel Folau.
Jonah Placid has retained his spot on the reserves bench after his two-try performance against the Waratahs, his first outing since Round 1, while scrumhalf Ben Meehan and centre Mitch Inman will provide impact off the bench. Hugh Sinclair returns to the line-up after the lock missed the Waratahs game.
15 Ben Volavola, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith
Substitutes: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Mitch Inman, 23 Jonah Placid
15 David Havili?, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge