Head Coach Tony McGahan has injected Wallaby scrum-half Luke Burgess into the Rebels' starting lineup to face the Sharks at AAMI Park.
Head Coach Tony McGahan has injected Wallaby scrum-half Luke Burgess into the Rebels' starting lineup to face the Sharks at AAMI Park this Friday.
McGahan believes Burgess' experience and physicality from kickoff will be an asset against the competition leaders in the first game of their four-match Australasian tour.
“We're looking for a change in dynamics this weekend as we play the Sharks who have such a big physical pack,” said McGahan.
“Luke has a strong kicking game from nine, and we'll need the physicality around the ruck and in attack and defence that Luke can certainly bring.
“Nic Stirzaker has done a fantastic job for us, starting the last five games, and there is a big difference between starting games and finishing games; there's a different skillset required. Nic has given us a great platform, and Luke has been terrific adding enthusiasm, speed and consistency when he has come on in the latter stages; Nic gets the opportunity to do that this week.”
Burgess' introduction from the outset is one of only two changes to the Rebels side which defeated the Western Force 22-16 two weeks ago, with prop Cruze Ah-Nau promoted to his first Super Rugby start as Toby Smith misses with a shoulder injury.
The Sharks head to Melbourne coming off just their second loss of the season last week, against the Highlanders in Durban, however McGahan is focused more on his squad and how they approach this match having had a bye over the ANZAC Day weekend.
“We are ready for the challenges posed by the Sharks,” added McGahan.
“It's great to be through the first half of the season; the guys have been really keen and enthusiastic at training over the last few days to start the second half of the season, and most importantly this block now of five games which kicks off with playing the number one side in Super Rugby at this point in time. The guys are really looking forward to the challenge, and being back at home.”
Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Male Sau, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Cruze Ah-Nau
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Max Lahiff,18 Paul Alo-Emilie, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Tom Kingston, 23 Angus Roberts
Date: Friday, May 2
Kick-off: 19:40 (local, 10:40 BST, 09:40 GMT)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia) , James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)