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The British & Irish Lions

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Delve to face the Lions

23rd June 2013 09:26

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Gareth Delve Rebels v Brumbies 2013

Exiled: Gareth Delve

Melbourne Rebels' Welsh skipper Gareth Delve will lead the provincial side when they face the British and Irish Lions on Tuesday.

Luke Burgess starts for the Rebels, with his last start on Australian soil was almost two years ago to the day, with the 37-Test veteran marking the Lions Tour as one of the key reasons for his return home.

"Every player's dream is to have the opportunity to play the British and Irish Lions in their home country, and I am very honoured to have been selected to start for the Rebels and get a chance to play them," said Burgess.

"Having been in Melbourne a couple of weeks now, I have built some solid combinations with this young playing group, and have enjoyed working alongside Nic Stirzaker in the halfback role. Together, we have both been able to apply a game plan that will look to challenge the Lions, and something we are both looking forward to."

Burgess made mention of the contrasting style between the two continents as a point of difference in his game management.

"European Rugby is a lot different to what we have down under, and I think I can bring an edge to the Rebels' attack, and control the tempo of the game," added Burgess.

"It's important we establish this early, as we have seen what they can do when allowed to control the match."

With Wallabies Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor and Nick Phipps unavailable for selection due to national selection, the Rebels also welcome the return of Hugh Pyle and Jarrod Saffy into the starting XV, after both returning from injury.

Rookie fly-half Bryce Hegarty returns to the run-on side, after missing the Rebels' previous match due to illness, having started against the NSW Waratahs and Stormers in recent wins.

Melbourne Rebels Head Coach, Damien Hill, said the selection of the Rebels youth was a shining example of the belief the coaching staff and players have in the club's future.

"There are many great milestones in this match, not only is it the first opportunity the Rebels have to play the British and Irish Lions in front of our members and fans, but it will be the first match for Cruze Ah-Nau at the Rebels and Luke's first start at the club," said Hill.

"I am very proud of the way Melbourne has embraced the Rebels, and we hope to repay that with a record attendance at AAMI Park, and a historical moment in Victorian sporting history.

"We have been without a number of our high profile players this season but the squad has met these challenges head on with many of the younger members like Bryce, Tom English, Jason Woodward, Jordy Reid, Angus Roberts and Pat Leafa getting their first taste of Super Rugby.

"Their efforts have contributed to a number of excellent team performances this season and they are excited about the challenge they will face together on Tuesday night."

Rebels:15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom English, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Lachlan Mitchell, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Gareth Delve (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile 19 Luke Jones, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Angus Roberts, 23 Cooper Vuna.

Date: Tuesday, June 25
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.40 local (10:40 BST, 09:40 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)