TEAM NEWS: Genia to miss Crusaders clash, To'omua to start at 10

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rebels coach Dave Wessels has dismissed suggestions the side is putting all its energy towards their final round game after resting star halfback Will Genia against the Crusaders.

Genia will sit out the Rebels' trip across the ditch to fulfil the second of his two Wallabies rest weeks, headlining a number of changes to the side for the clash.

The Rebels take on the Chiefs in round 18 at home to finish off their season and need just one win from their final two games to ensure a finals spot.

Though the Crusaders have been inconsistent in recent weeks, they still sit well on top of the Super Rugby log where the Chiefs sit towards the bottom of the New Zealand conference.

Asked whether his selections were part of a strategy to throw everything at the Chiefs in round 18, Wessels simply said they weren't in a position to pick and choose in that regard.

"We don't have the luxury with where we're at, to be taking things easy or anything like that," he said.

"We've got to fight for every opportunity and this is an opportunity, another opportunity.

"It's a weird comp this year and I think our biggest frustration is we probably feel like we're not really in form at the moment, we're not really playing well, so we're trying to play better and we're trying to fix the things that we think are wrong with our game and try to do those things well."


Michael Ruru will start in Genia's place while Harrison Goddard comes onto the bench for the match.

Matt To'omua has been handed the playmaking reins for the clash with Quade Cooper named on the pine, while Tom English starts on the wing.

Wessels said that choice was in part because of Cooper's heavy workload this season - the 10 has played every game this year - and the addition of To'omua made that choice easier.

"Quade's had a massive workload, played every game so far," he said.

"So, for him to be able to have a breather is handy for us. To Matt To'omua's credit, he's fitted in well. He's raining well, looking forward to it."

In-form winger Marika Koroibete will come off the bench in a bid to lighten his load in a big season.

In the pack, Jordan Uelese gets his first start since returning from an ACL injury, while Angus Cottrell starts at blindside flanker in place of Luke Jones.

The Crusaders have won just two of their past five matches, with two draws and a loss as well, but Wessels said that didn't lessen the threat of the Canterbury side.

Jordan Uelese is still at least a  month away from returning to play. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"They're obviously a hell of a good side and I think they're an exciting side," he said.

"That's probably the nice thing about going to play against them is you get yourself up for an exciting game, whichever way it goes.

"I've read some stuff that Scott Robertson was saying he's a bit frustrated by their form.

"I think they've won two of their last five and they've had the odd off-field thing happen so they'll be frustrated by those things but there's no doubt, aside from all of that, they're still a good side so we're going to have to play really well.

Wessels also said the club was hopeful of retaining Genia and Cooper, who are both off-contract this season.

"We're hopeful to still keep Willy and those conversations are going on now. There's nothing finalised," he said.

"I would like to see Quade here next year and those conversations are looking pretty positive as well."

The Rebels take on the Crusaders on Saturday June 8, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.

TEAM

Rebels to face Crusaders

1. Tetera Faulkner

2. Jordan Uelese

3. Sam Talakai

4. Matt Philip

5. Adam Coleman

6. Angus Cottrell

7. Richard Hardwick

8. Isi Naisarani

9. Michael Ruru

10. Matt To’omua

11. Tom English

12. Billy Meakes

13. Reece Hodge

14. Jack Maddocks

15. Dane Haylett-Petty

Reserves

16. Anaru Rangi

17. Matt Gibbon

18. Jermaine Ainsley

19. Luke Jones

20. Ross Haylett-Petty

21. Harrison Goddard

22. Quade Cooper

23. Marika Koroibete