Naivalu injury triggers Rebels reshuffle

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Sefa Naivalu's season ending ankle injury has triggered a Rebels backline reshuffle amid eight changes to the 23 that will take on the Force.

Naivalu scored a spectacular double against Italy before badly twisting his ankle and in the wash up, he was ruled out of the remainder of the Super Rugby season.

That has forced Tony McGahan's hand, with Reece Hodge shifting into inside centre from fullback, pushing Mitch Inman to outside centre and Tom English onto the wing.

Jonah Placid will fill Hodge's boots at fullback, while Jackson Garden-Bachop has been recalled into the starting XV at flyhalf in place of Ben Volavola.Lopeti Timani shifts back to blindside flanker for the clash with the Force. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyUp front, Murray Douglas comes into the second row for his first start since round four, with Laurie Weeks given the nod at tighthead prop.

Douglas' inclusion sees Lopeti Timani shift back to blindside flanker, with Hugh Sinclair relegated to bench duties.

Australian U20s stars Jordan Uelese and Sione Tuipulotu have also been included on the bench, alongside fellow U20s talent Jack Maddocks, who returns from a wrist injury that kept him from the World Rugby U20s Championship.

The Rebels face the Force at nib Stadium on Friday night, kicking off at 9:55pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and on radio at RUGBY.com.au.

TEAM

Rebels team to face the Force

1. Toby Smith

2. James Hanson

3. Laurie Weeks

4. Murray Douglas

5. Steve Cummins

6. Lopeti Timani

7. Colby Fainga’a

8. Amanaki Mafi

9. Nic Stirzaker (C)

10. Jackson Garden-Bachop

11. Marika Koroibete

12. Reece Hodge

13. Mitch Inman

14. Tom English

15. Jonah Placid

Reserves

16. Jordan Uelese

17. Cruze Ah Nau

18. Fereti Sa’aga

19. Culum Retallick

20. Hugh Sinclair

21. Ben Meehan

22. Sione Tuipulotu

23. Jack Maddocks

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