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