The Rising have taken a youth first approach in selecting their squad for the NRC, naming six Australian U20s and seven Rebels U20s in the 32-player group.
Coach Zane Hilton has also drawn on an impressive crop of Dewar Shield stars, which trialled for the coaching staff in a session last week.
“It’s a very young group with a lot of guys coming back from the U20s national program as well as some young guys coming out of Dewar Shield, which has been great to see the standard of competition continuing to rise again this year,” Hilton said.
“It’s very important for us to be playing the style of footy during the NRC that resonate with Victorians and the way they want us to play that will lead to the success which is important for us to have in the short term.”
There are 17 potential debutants but there are also stars amongst the players named, with Wallabies Reece Hodge, Sefa Naivalu, Toby Smith and Lopeti Timani all named, as well as Rebels regulars Nic Stirzaker, James Hanson, Sean McMahon, Steve Cummins, Esei Haangana, Rob Leota, Jack Maddocks, Jack McGregor, Tom Moloney, Fereti Sa’aga, Siliva Siliva, Alex Toolis, Semisi Tupou, Sione Tuipulotu and Jordan Uelese.
It will also mark Aussie Sevens star Henry Hutchison's first appearance in Melbourne colours, having signed with the Rebels for 2018.
Rising squad for the NRC
Reece Hodge (Wallaby)
Sefa Naivalu (Wallaby)
Toby Smith (Wallaby)
Lopeti Timani (Wallaby)