Seven changes for Rebels starters

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Star flanker Sean McMahon is set to miss his first Rebels game in nearly two years, among seven changes to Melbourne's starting team to face the Crusaders.

McMahon, who has been ruled out with groin soreness, last missed a match in round 13, 2015, playing every match for the Rebels this season.

Locks Luke Jones and Lopeti Timani have been ruled out of the match, after failing to overcome concussions, with Sam Jeffries and Cullum Retallick stepping up in their absence.

In positive news, captain and halfback Nic Stirzaker has been named to return from an ankle injury, while fullback Mike Harris is also starting, with a view to finishing his final matches on a high.

Prop Laurie Weeks will play his first match since injuring his hamstring before the test break as well, while backrower Adam Thomson will return from a back injury.

In the changes, just hooker James Hanson, flyhalf Jack Debreczeni and winger Tom English will start in the same spots as they did against the Stormers. 

Sione Tuipulotu and Rob Leota will play together at Super Rugby level for the first time, becoming the first Victorian-born players to do so, an achievement of which coach Tony McGahan was very proud.

“The inclusion of Sione and Rob is a historic milestone for the Melbourne Rebels and a fitting reward for the hard work of everyone behind the scenes in Victorian Rugby to develop local talent,” McGahan said.

“Unfortunately injuries have been the story of our season, which has made weekly team selection a challenge throughout the year, but it continues to provide opportunities for others.

“Numbers were touch and go at the start of the week but we’re pleased to welcome back a wealth of experience in Nic, Laurie, Adam and Mike for arguably the hardest road trip in Super Rugby against the Crusaders.”

 Rebels team to face Crusaders on Saturday at 5:35pm AEST, LIVE on FOXSPORTS

1. Toby Smith

2. James Hanson

3. Laurie Weeks

4. Sam Jeffries

5. Culum Retallick 

6. Jordy Reid

7. Colby Fainga'a

8. Adam Thomson

9. Nic Stirzaker (captain)

10. Jack Debreczeni

11. Tom English 

12. Reece Hodge

13. Sione Tuipulotu

14. Sefa Naivalu

15. Mike Harris

Reserves

16. Pat Leafa 

17. Cruze Ah Nau

18. Jamie Hagan

19. Steve Cummins

20. Rob Leota*

21. Ben Meehan

22. Paul Asquith

23. Jonah Placid 

 

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