Highlanders clash a must-win for Rebels: To'omua

Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 5:56 AM
by AAP
Former Sharks lock, Gideon Koegelenberg has earned his first start for the Melbourne Rebels to face the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday night. Koegelenberg says he's very excited to be given the opportunity and is up for any challenges the Highlanders throw at him.

After his most influential Super Rugby game for Melbourne since arriving late last season, five-eighth Matt Toomua says they "need a result" in Friday night's clash with the Highlanders.

The Wallabies five-eighth returns to the starting line-up after missing last round's 12-point loss to the Sharks with a minor groin injury.

The defeat leaves the Rebels with a 1-3 start the season.

Toomua turned in a first-class showing the week previous in their victory over the Waratahs and they will look for a repeat performance against the Highlanders in Dunedin, where they've never won.

They did however beat the Highlanders in their last meeting in round three in Melbourne last season.

Toomua gave credit to halves partner Ryan Louwrens but certainly put his hand up to wear the vacant Wallabies No.10 jersey with his own game.

"I felt like I was able to have an influence on that game," Toomua said.

"Ryan, myself and Dane (Haylett-Petty) probably adjusted to the conditions better than the Waratahs did in that game although that's not something we will have to focus on tomorrow because there's a roof."

The 30-year-old was on the sidelines against the Sharks in Ballarat and said despite the loss, he rated it one of their better games.

Like his coach Dave Wessels said post-match, he felt they lost some key moments which proved costly.

"I thought it was one of our better performances of the season as the Sharks are a very, very good team," Toomua said.

"A lot of areas such as our structured defence, it's probably the best we've done so we will take that now because ultimately we need a result."

The Highlanders similarly suffered at the hands of the Sharks, losing 40-22 in round two.

Wallabies hooker Jordan Uelese was named on the bench for his first match of the year after a hamstring issue.

"He's trained well so hopefully it won't take too long for him to pick up where he left off," Toomua said.

The Rebels take on the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, on Friday February 28, kicking off at 7:05pm local, 5:05pm AEDT, LIVE on Foxtel, Kayo Sports and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.

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