Jack Debreczeni will become the fourth Captain in the Melbourne Rising’s history, after Head Coach Zane Hilton made a number of changes ahead of the Round Seven Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) match.
Debreczeni, who follows in the footsteps of 2014 skipper Nic Stirzaker and 2015 Co-Captains Colby Fainga’a and Scott Fuglistaller, headlines a youthful lineup that includes a starting backline which averages just 21 years of age.
There’s first starts for Mitch Andrews and Sione Tuipulotu, as well as a potential debut for eighteen year old hooker Jordan Uelese who is called in from the Melbourne Rising Extended Training Squad (ETS), while only nine contracted Melbourne Rebels players have been selected.
Melbourne Rising Head Coach Zane Hilton said he was excited to see new combinations in action for the Rising at Viking Park.
“We’ve got a great opportunity to head up to Canberra and have a real crack on Friday night,” Hilton said. “We’re up against one of the competition’s two unbeaten sides, and having made a number of changes we are under no illusions that we’re travelling up as underdogs.
“In saying that, we’re really looking forward to seeing Mitch Andrews and Sione Tuipulotu starting their first NRC match, as well as seeing Fereti Sa’aga back in the starting lineup. We’re also really delighted to reward Jordan Uelese with a spot on the bench; he is a really impressive young man who has trained exceptionally hard within our ETS squad.
“Finally, as a group we’re all really pleased to see Sione Taufa in the matchday squad for the first time this year. He played very well for the Rising in 2014, and while he has had to be patient and wait for an opportunity in 2015 with so much depth in our back row, his attitude has been spot on.”
Ladder leaders the UC Vikings have brought in former Australian Sevens rep Lausii Taliauli as they seek to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
UC Vikings team to play Melbourne Rising:
1. Allan Alaalatoa
2. Robert Abel
3. Ben Alexander
4. Rory Arnold
5. Blake Enever
6. Jordan Smiler (VC)
7. Jarrad Butler (C)
8. Ita Vaea
9. Joe Powell
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Lausii Taliauli
12. James Dargaville
13. Nigel Ah Wong
14. Jerome Niumata
15. Aidan Toua
16. Albert Anae
17. Sione Taula
18. Les Leulua’iali’i-Makin
19. Rowan Perry
20. Dean Oakman-Hunt
21. Brett Hamlin
22. Isaac Thompson
23. Francis Fainifo
Melbourne Rising team to play UC Vikings:
1. Fereti Sa’aga (Melbourne Uni, 7 Melbourne Rising caps)
2. Mitch Andrews (Melbourne Unicorns, 3 Melbourne Rising caps)
3. Cruze Ah-Nau (Footscray & Rebels, 11 Melbourne Rising caps)
4. Sam Jeffries (Melbourne Uni & Rebels, 13 Melbourne Rising caps)
5. Steve Cummins (Harlequin & Rebels, 5 Melbourne Rising caps)
6. Luke Jones (Moorabbin & Rebels, 11 Melbourne Rising caps)
7. Jordy Reid (Melbourne Unicorns & Rebels, 5 Melbourne Rising caps)
8. Pom Simona (Harlequin, 11 Melbourne Rising caps)
9. Ben Meehan (Box Hill & Rebels, 8 Melbourne Rising caps)
10. Jack Debreczeni (Endeavour Hills & Rebels, 14 Melbourne Rising caps) (Captain)
11. Stacey Ili (Melbourne Uni, 4 Melbourne Rising caps)
12. Sione Tuipulotu (Southern Districts, 5 Melbourne Rising caps)
13. Dom Shipperley (Melbourne Uni & Rebels, 3 Melbourne Rising cap)
14. Justin Marsters (Harlequin, 3 Melbourne Rising caps)
15. Jonah Placid (Melbourne Uni & Rebels, 12 Melbourne Rising caps)
16. Jordan Uelese (Melbourne Uni)*
17. Duncan Chubb (Southern Districts (NSW), 5 Melbourne Rising caps)
18. Tom Moloney (Brothers (QLD), 3 Melbourne Rising caps)
19. Murray Douglas (Harlequin, 3 Melbourne Rising caps)
20. Sione Taufa (Harlequin, 7 Melbourne Rising caps)
21. Maradona Farao (Harlequin, 3 Melbourne Rising caps)
22. Lloyd Johansson (Harlequin, 14 Melbourne Rising caps)
23. Filipe Vilitati (Box Hill, 3 Melbourne Rising caps)
* Potential NRC debut