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    Wallabies pair back in Rebels squad

    2019-02-27 12:47

    Cape Town - Star Wallabies duo Reece Hodge and Adam Coleman have been named in Rebels’ match-day 23 ahead of the franchise’s first home game of the year against the Highlanders at AAMI Park on Friday.

    Both Hodge and Coleman will start on the bench after overcoming lower leg injuries in what will be their first game of the 2019 Super Rugby season.

    Making way for Coleman is forward Esei Ha’angana, while Hodge has been brought into the team for winger Semesi Tupou, who has been left out of the side due to a concussion-related injury occurring at training during the week.

    Two changes have been made to the starting XV from the Rebels’ Round One triumph over the Brumbies, with Sam Talakai to replace Jermaine Ainsley at tighthead prop, while Brad Wilkin has come into the flanker role, meaning Richard Hardwick will start in the reserves.

    Head coach Dave Wessels is thrilled at the inclusions of Coleman and Hodge into the team for Friday night’s blockbuster match.

    “The biggest thing for us is how much those guys have competed in rehab to get to the level where they are now,” Wessels said.

    “They’ve hit some personal best fitness markers, so I think Adam and Reece deserve selection having done that.”

    With the side coming off an impressive victory over the Brumbies, Wessels admitted there were serious selection headaches about who to omit from the side.

    It’s why Wessels says Coleman and Hodge starting on the bench shows the level of competition required to earn spots in the team.

    “We want to create an environment where players are competing for spots,” he said.

    “Those guys who played against the Brumbies deserved to have held their spot because It’s pretty hard to split those players.”

    One aspect the head coach wants his side to improve on ahead of the Highlanders match is to be more consistent around set-pieces.

    “I thought we scrummed well at times, but we were inconsistent... but it’s something we’ve worked on over the last couple of weeks,” he added.

    “We’re very fortunate to have some experienced players like Tetera Faulkner who’s played 80-90 games, Sam Talakai who’s starting at tighthead this week and Anaru Rangi, because it’s not their first rodeo, so we’re confident with how they’ll go.”

    Teams:

    Rebels

    15 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 Brad Wilkin, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner

    Substitutes: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Jermain Ainsley, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Rob Leota, 22 Michael Ruru, 23 Reece Hodge

    Highlanders

    15 Josh Ioane, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Josh McKay, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Pari Pari Parkinson, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

    Substitutes: 16 Ricky Jackson, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Marino Mikaele Tu'u, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Patelesio Tomkinson, 23 Marty Banks

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