Melbourne Rebels name team to face British & Irish Lions

by staff

The RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels have named their strongest available team for Tuesday night's historical match against the British & Irish Lions, with Qantas Wallabies scrumhalf Luke Burgess selected in the run on side.

Burgess' last start on Australia soil was almost two years ago to the day, with the 37 Test veteran marking the DHL Australian Lions Tour as one of the key reasons for his return home.

"Every Rugby player's dream is to have the opportunity to play The British & Irish Lions in their home country, and I am very honoured to have been selected to start for the Rebels and get a chance to play them," said Burgess.

"Having been in Melbourne a couple of weeks now, I have built some solid combinations with this young playing group, and have enjoyed working alongside Nic Stirzaker in the halfback role. Together, we have both been able to apply a game plan that will look to challenge the Lions, and something we are both looking forward to."

Burgess made mention of the contrasting style between the two continents as a point of difference in his game management.

"European Rugby is a lot different to what we have down under, and I think I can bring an edge to the Rebels' attack, and control the tempo of the game.

"It's important we establish this early, as we have seen what they can do when allowed to control the match."

With Wallabies Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor and Nick Phipps unavailable for selection due to national selection, the Rebels also welcome the return of Hugh Pyle and Jarrod Saffy into the starting XV, after both returning from injury.

Rookie flyhalf Bryce Hegarty returns to the run on side, after missing the Rebels' previous match due to illness, having started against the NSW Waratahs and Stormers in recent wins.

Melbourne Rebels Head Coach, Damien Hill, said the selection of the Rebels youth was a shining example of the belief the coaching staff and players have in the Club's future.

"There are many great milestones in this match, not only is it the first opportunity the Rebels have to play The British & Irish Lions in front of our members and fans, but it will be the first match for Cruze Ah-Nau at the Rebels and Luke's first start at the Club," said Hill.

"I am very proud of the way Melbourne has embraced the Rebels, and we hope to repay that with a record attendance at AAMI Park, and a historical moment in Victorian sporting history.

"We have been without a number of our high profile players this season but the squad has met these challenges head on with many of the younger members like Bryce, Tom English, Jason Woodward, Jordy Reid, Angus Roberts and Pat Leafa getting their first taste of Super Rugby.

"Their efforts have contributed to a number of excellent team performances this season and they are excited about the challenge they will face together on Tuesday night."

To celebrate the first ever match between the RaboDirect Rebels and The British & Irish Lions, the Rebels will wear a commemorative strip.

The RaboDirect Rebels to play The British & Irish Lions at AAMI Park, Tuesday June 25, 7:40pm:

1. Nic Henderson

2. Ged Robinson

3. Laurie Weeks

4. Cadeyrn Neville

5. Hugh Pyle

6. Jarrod Saffy

7. Scott Fuglistaller

8. Gareth Delve (c)

9. Luke Burgess^

10. Bryce Hegarty

11. Lachlan Mitchell

12. Rory Sidey

13. Mitch Inman

14. Tom English

15. Jason Woodward


16. Pat Leafa

17. Cruze Ah-Nau*

18. Paul Alo-Emile

19. Luke Jones

20. Jordy Reid

21. Nic Stirzaker

22. Angus Roberts

23. Cooper Vuna

*Rebels debut

^Rebels first start

(The Rebels and all Australian teams will carry two prop forwards on the reserves)