The Melbourne Rebels’ pre-season will have an international flavour in 2016, headlined by a clash with Manu Samoa.
Melbourne will kick off its trial games travelling to Auckland on February 4 before a landmark match against Samoa at home on February 18.
The match will hold special significance for a number of Rebels player including Laurie Weeks, Cruze Ah Nau, Pat Leafa, Siliva Siliva, all of whom have Samoan heritage.
Rebels prop Weeks said he was eagerly anticipating the challenge of facing Manu Samoa next month.
“After a long pre-season it’s always exciting to have your first home hit out and put all of that training and hard work into practice,” he said.
“Samoan Rugby has a proud history and I’m expecting this game to be a challenge. They are big, fast and extremely physical in their playing style.”
With a large Samoan community in Melbourne, Weeks doesn’t expect the home side to have the support all their way, though.
“The Rebels fans are pretty passionate but then so is the Samoan Rugby community.
“There might be a few fans caught between supporting us and national pride. Let’s hope the Rebels fans don’t get drowned out by cheers for the opposition.”
The match will also prove the first opportunity for fans to see their new recruits in action at AAMI Park, including internationals Adam Thomson and James Hanson.
All rebels ticketed members will be able to attend the game for free, while tickets start from $6 for kids and $12 for adults.
Melbourne kicks off its Super Rugby season on Friday February 26 against the Western Force at nib Stadium.