Genia returns, front row replaced for Rebels

Super Rugby
by AAP

Will Genia has been at his bossy best this week and Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels will welcome the return of his competitive edge for the Super Rugby clash with the Crusaders on Friday night.

Genia missed the last two games in South Africa through injury and, against the defending champions and ladder leaders at AAMI Park, the Rebels need their Wallabies halfback in the commanding form he showed previously if they're to halt their losing slide.

"Will's just a competitor; he's a world class player but he's also very competitive and he's a good organiser," Wessels said on Wednesday.

"Just having his voice back in training this week has been valuable.

"If anyone misses their detail or their role he's right on to them which is really handy."Will Genia is back in the Rebels starting XV. Photo: Melbourne Rebels MediaAs well as regaining Genia, the Rebels have received a further boost, securing their first jersey sponsor in three years in Legacy Property and Investment Group, which extends right down to their community rugby pathway.

Wessels has made a number of changes to the pack, which struggled in last round's loss to the Stormers in Cape Town.

Fereti Sa'aga and Sam Talakai are promoted to starting props while lock Geoff Parling and flanker Colby Fainga'a also come into the run-on side.

Wallabies fullback Dane Haylett-Petty is still missing through concussion.

Without Wallabies hooker Jordan Uelese for another three weeks with an arm injury, ex-Western Force rake Nathan Charles has been named on the bench after only joining the club this week from UK club Bath.

Nathan Charles will make his Rebels debut on Friday. Photo: Getty ImagesWessels coached Charles in Perth and said he'd been impressed with him since his arrival.

"I know him pretty well and he's a world-class set-piece hooker, particularly around his lineout," Wessels said.

"He's match fit and when he came in on Monday morning he was already across all the lineout calls and ready to go."

Having dropped to seventh on the back of four losses, Wessels said they would need to play their best and have a little bit of luck to stop the Crusaders.

"You can tie yourself in a figure of eight if you over-think the Crusaders," Wessels said.

"To beat them we're going to have to play our best game and we're going to need a bit of luck but we feel like a few things are going our way."


Rebels team to face the Crusaders

1. Fereti Sa’aga

2. Anaru Rangi

3. Sam Talakai

4. Geoff Parling

5. Adam Coleman (C)

6. Angus Cottrell

7. Colby Fainga’a

8. Amanaki Mafi

9. Will Genia

10. Jack Debreczeni

11. Marika Koroibete

12. Billy Meakes

13. Reece Hodge

14. Sefa Naivalu

15. Jack Maddocks


16. Nathan Charles

17. Tetera Faulkner

18. Jermaine Ainsley

19. Matt Philip

20. Lopeti Timani

21. Michael Ruru

22. Tom English

23. Semisi Tupou

The Rebels host the Crusaders at AAMI Park on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and radio.