The Melbourne Rebels have welcomed back flyer Lachie Anderson for their clash against the Blues, who will be without their own bolstering winger Caleb Clarke as he begins his Sevens transition.
Anderson returns via the bench after overcoming a syndesmosis injury during their Round Four win over the Waratahs.
He is joined on the bench by club teammate Michael Icely, who is set for his Super Rugby debut after excelling for Eastwood over the past 18 months.
“I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to make my Super Rugby and Melbourne Rebels’ debut in such an important game for the club. It’s been great training with the boys and I can’t wait to get out on AAMI Park and give it my best come Saturday night,” Icely said.
New interim coach Kevin Foote has reinstated Richard Hardwick and Josh Kemeny to the starting side, with Isi Naisarani and Pone Faamausili still suspended after their red-cards during the Final Round of Super Rugby AU.
Meanwhile, the Blues have confirmed that All Black Caleb Clarke will be unavailable for the rest of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
Clarke will link up with the New Zealand Sevens team, who are set to play a series of matches against Australia next week in Auckland as they ramp up preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.
AJ Lam comes into the starting line-up, with fullback Zarn Sullivan retaining his spot at fullback after a breakout game against the Chiefs.
“We have freshened up after Super Rugby Aotearoa and excited about this new competition,” said head coach Leon MacDonald. “The squad are looking forward to flying to Australia and to take on a different team with a different style in a different city
“There is an element of the unknown but that is what is exciting them and us as coaches.
“We have been watching the Australian games and been impressed with the speed of the game and the attacking play.
“One of the key challenges this year has been discipline with referees and now we will face new referees and no doubt a different take on the same laws, so we will need to adjust quickly.”
REBELS (1-15): Cameron Orr, Jordan Uelese, Cabous Eloff, Rob Leota, Ross Haylett-Petty, Josh Kemeny, Richard Hardwick, Michael Wells, Joe Powell, Matt To'omua, Marika Koroibete, Campbell Magnay, Stacey Ili, Frank Lomani, Tom Pincus
Reserves: James Hanson, Matt Gibbon, Lucio Sordoni, Steve Cummins, Michael Icely, James Tuttle, Carter Gordon, Lachie Anderson
INs: Lachie Anderson, Michael Icely, Lucio Sordoni, James Tuttle
OUTs: Isi Naisarani, Brad Wilkin, Pone Faamausili, George Worth
BLUES (1-15): Karl Tu'inukuafe, Kurt Eklund, Marcel Renata, Gerard Cowley-Tuoti, Josh Goodhue, Tom Robinson (c), Adran Choat, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Otere Black, AJ Lam, TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane, Bryce Heem, Zarn Sullivan
Reserves: Soane Vikena, Ofa Tuungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Jacob Pierce, Akira Ioane, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, Mark Telea
INs: Mark Telea, TJ Fainane, Jacob Pierce,
OUTs: Caleb Clarke, Taniela Tele'a, Sam Darry,