Tom English has been named on the wing for Rising’s trip to the Gold Coast this weekend (Image: Getty)
Melbourne Rising Head Coach Zane Hilton has named an experienced side for the Rising’s Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) clash against Queensland Country for the Horan-Little Shield at Bond University on Sunday afternoon.
Thirteen players boast Super Rugby experience with a cumulative 200 caps whilst a further five have represented their country at Test level.
“We will always put our strongest side out on the pitch and will look to play an exciting style of rugby,” said Hilton.
Flanker Scott Fuglistaller will lead the Rising with co-captain Colby Fainga’a and last year’s leading point-scorer flyhalf Jack Debreczeni, whilst Jonah Placid and Pat Leafa will reprise their crucial 2014 roles at fullback and hooker.
Hilton has also rewarded Harlequins centre Leo Taliu with a place in the starting 15 after his impressive Direct Connect Dewar Shield Premiership season with the Harlequins.
“Leo’s come off the back of a very good season with ‘Quins and thoroughly deserves his spot in the side,” said Hilton.
Taliu will make his Rising debut outside ‘Quins teammate Lloyd Johansson, with Wallaby wingers Tom English and Dom Shipperly providing support on the fringes.
In the forwards, second rower Murray Douglas debuts alongside former NSW Country Eagles prop Duncan Chubb, whilst flanker Jordy Reid joins Fainga’a and Fugistaller in a formidable back row combination, who will target Queensland Country’s dangerous halves pairing of James Tuttle and Sam Greene.
Despite his excitement at starting Rising’s 2015 campaign, Hilton isn’t taking his opposition lightly.
“Queensland Country are a strong side, particularly up front. Players like Sef Faagase and Radike Samo pose a very serious running threat, and the strength of their forwards pack allows players like Tuttle and Greene to control the game through the halves.”
Rising stalwarts Fereti Sa’aga and Pom Simona will have the opportunity to feature off the bench; as will exciting young centre Sione Tuipolotu and Direct Connect Dewar Shield Grand Final man-of-the-match fullback Justin Marsters.
The side features players from all nine Dewar Shield clubs, including eleven players from last weekend’s Grand Final between Harlequin and Melbourne University.
Melbourne Rising team to face Queensland Country:
1.Duncan Chubb (Southern Districts (NSW))
2.Pat Leafa Box Hill & Rebels)
3.Tim Metcher (Moorabbin & Rebels)
4.Murray Douglas (Harlequin)
5.Steve Cummins (Harlequin & Rebels)
6.Jordy Reid (Melbourne & Rebels)
7. Scott Fuglistaller (Moorabbin & Rebels) (Captain)
8. Colby Fainga’a (Footscray & Rebels) (Vice Captain)
9. Ben Meehan (Box Hill & Rebels)
10. Jack Debreczeni (Endeavour Hills & Rebels) (Vice Captain)
11. Tom English (Melbourne Uni & Rebels)*
12. Lloyd Johansson (Harlequin)
13. Leo Taliu (Harlequin)
14. Dom Shipperley (Melbourne Uni & Rebels)
15. Jonah Placid (Melbourne Uni & Rebels)
16. Mitch Andrews (Melbourne)
17. Mike Tyler (Power House)
18. Fereti Sa’aga (Melbourne Uni)
19. Luke Jones (Moorabbin & Rebels)*
20. Pom Simona (Harlequin)
21. Maradona Farao (Harlequin)
22. Sione Tuipulotu (Southern Districts)
23. Justin Marsters (Harlequin)