Rebels halfback Will Genia will miss the Rebels' final Super Rugby trial against the Waratahs, with a back injury.
Genia hasn't yet played for the Rebels, pulling out of the Brisbane Tens with the back concern that is still lingering, putting him under a cloud for round one.
He is one of four big-name Rebels injured for the final trial week, with winger Marika Koroibete and flanker Richard Hardwick missing with knee injuries and centre Billy Meakes still recovering from foot surgery, that is set to rule him out of the early parts of the 2018 Super Rugby season.
Outside of that trio, Rebels coach Dave Wessels has picked a formidable squad with plenty of Wallabies in the lineup.
Adam Coleman will captain the side for the first time in the second row, combining with former Force teammate Matt Philip at lock, with Lopeti Timani, Angus Cottrell and Amanaki Mafi in the backrow.
Explosive winger Sefa Naivalu will return from injury to start for the first time in 2018, after a shoulder setback at the end of 2017, with Dane Haylett-Petty switching to fullback for the clash.
Reece Hodge and Tom English will combine in the centres, with Jack Debreczeni handed the reins at 10 for the match and Jack Maddocks on the wing.
Wessels said the trial would give players a last chance push their credentials for round one.
“The trial against the Waratahs will be an important opportunity to get some more rugby into our legs and an opportunity for our international players to build those new connections in a live fire competitive environment. We want to see players competing hard and putting their hand up for round one selection next weekend,” he said.
“We’ve got some very clear objectives heading into this final trial against the Waratahs. We learnt some harsh but valuable lessons in our first trial against the Brumbies so I want to see everything that we’ve been working hard on put into practice against the Waratahs,” Wessels said.
The Rebels went down in their first trial a fortnight ago, losing 50-19 to the Brumbies, and Haylett-Petty said they were looking for improvement in Sydney.
“After a long and hard pre-season, it’s nice to be back playing competitive rugby again, even if it’s a trial game," he said.
Our trial against the Brumbies identified a few areas of our game that needed attention so we’ve worked hard over the last week. Being our last trial game before Round 1, we need to see some improvement as we continue to build towards our first game of the season against the Reds next weekend,” Haylett-Petty said.
The Rebels take on the Waratahs on Thursday February 15 at Brookvale Oval, kicking off at 6:45pm AEDT.
Rebels team to face Waratahs
1. Tetera Faulkner
2. Jordan Uelese
3. Jermaine Ainsley
4. Matt Philip
5. Adam Coleman (c)
6. Lopeti Timani
7. Angus Cottrell
8. Amanaki Mafi
9. Michael Ruru
10. Jack Debreczeni
11. Sefa Naivalu
12. Reece Hodge
13. Tom English (vc)
14. Jack Maddocks
15. Dane Haylett-Petty