Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) Player of the Year runner up Jordy Reid is part of strong looking Melbourne Rising forward pack, as Head Coach Zane Hilton named his side to travel to Canberra for a Semi Final fixture against the UC Vikings this Friday night.
Reid retains his openside flanker position alongside Captain Colby Fainga’a in the Number Eight jersey, with Melbourne Rebels and Harlequin forward Steve Cummins joining the back row in place of Luke Jones, who misses out with injury.
Lopeti Timani and Sam Jeffries team up in the second row, while the front row of Cruze Ah-Nau, Pat Leafa and Duncan Chubb remains unchanged from Sunday’s 18-10 victory against the Sydney Stars.
Hilton said he was expecting the game to be won and lost in the forwards.
“The Vikings have a very strong forward pack, almost exclusively filled with Super Rugby players, but we’re really confident in the ability of our guys,” Hilton said. “Defensively, we’ve shown how capable we are, while the likes of Jordy, Colby and ‘LT’ pose a significant offensive threat around the park.
“Their work in creating go-forward, as well as our entire pack’s performance at both scrum and lineout time, will lay the platform for our exciting back line to look to bust the line and find space behind their defence.”
That backline includes a return to the starting lineup for Filipe Vilitati on the right wing and a return to the starting lineup for Lloyd Johansson, with Dom Shipperley’s NRC campaign over after suffering a hamstring injury on Sunday. Taiso Silafai-Leaana, a former Wellington ITM Cup player and current Melbourne Uni centre, is a chance to make his debut off the bench.
“Lloyd is a big game player and will bring some increased presence, physicality and distribution to our midfield; it’s a great opportunity for him,” Hilton said. “Filipe is raw, but exciting, and we’re looking forward to seeing him from the opening minute, while Taiso has been a wonderful example of patience to the rest of our squad, working hard and supporting the team in the hope he’d get an opportunity; he’s deserving of a chance.”
The Melbourne Rising will travel to Canberra on Thursday ahead of Friday evening’s clash, which will be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports 502 at 7:30pm AEDT.
Melbourne Rising vs. UC Vikings NRC Semi Final, Friday October 23rd, 2015
1. Cruze Ah-Nau (Footscray & Rebels, 14 Melbourne Rising caps)
2. Pat Leafa (Box Hill & Rebels, 16 Melbourne Rising caps)
3. Duncan Chubb (Southern Districts (NSW), 8 Melbourne Rising caps)
4. Sam Jeffries (Melbourne Uni & Rebels, 16 Melbourne Rising caps)
5. Lopeti Timani (Footscray & Rebels, 13 Melbourne Rising caps)
6. Steve Cummins (Harlequin & Rebels, 8 Melbourne Rising caps)
7. Jordy Reid (Melbourne Unicorns & Rebels, 8 Melbourne Rising caps)
8. Colby Fainga’a (Footscray & Rebels, 7 Melbourne Rising caps) (Captain)
9. Ben Meehan (Box Hill & Rebels, 11 Melbourne Rising caps)
10. Jack Debreczeni (Endeavour Hills & Rebels, 17 Melbourne Rising caps)
11. Filipe Vilitati (Box Hill, 4 Melbourne Rising caps)
12. Lloyd Johansson (Harlequin, 17 Melbourne Rising caps)
13. Sione Tuipulotu (Southern Districts, 8 Melbourne Rising caps)
14. Stacey Ili (Melbourne Uni, 7 Melbourne Rising caps)
15. Jonah Placid (Melbourne Uni & Rebels, 15 Melbourne Rising caps)
16. Mitch Andrews (Melbourne Unicorns, 4 Melbourne Rising caps)
17. Mike Tyler (Power House, 2 Melbourne Rising caps)
18. Tom Moloney (Brothers (QLD), 6 Melbourne Rising caps)
19. Murray Douglas (Harlequin, 4 Melbourne Rising caps)
20. Pom Simona (Harlequin, 13 Melbourne Rising caps)
21. Maradona Farao (Harlequin, 4 Melbourne Rising caps)
22. Taiso Silafai-Leaana (Melbourne Uni)*
23. Justin Marsters (Harlequin, 6 Melbourne Rising caps)
* Indicates potential Melbourne Rising debut