Rebels change one for Brumbies

Date published: February 26 2015

Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made one change to his starting line-up for Saturday's clash with the Brumbies in Melbourne.

Scrum-half Nic Stirzaker, who missed last weekend's game against the Waratahs through suspension, returns to the run-on side and replaces Luke Burgess, who drops down to the bench.

McGahan said he was looking forward to the challenge of playing the Brumbies, a side he has great respect for.

“You’re always in for a big challenge when you play against the Brumbies,” he said.

“They’re the most successful Australian Super Rugby franchise ever, and are a formidable opponent who have impressed so far again this season. We have a lot of time for their senior playing group and way they get on with their business on the field.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to again test ourselves against one of the competition benchmarks, and show we are continuing to move forward in the right direction following very tough opening games against the Crusaders and Waratahs.”

McGahan also praised the work of his forward pack despite eventually suffering a narrow defeat to the Waratahs.

“I thought that our forward pack performed very well and showed great physicality against the Waratahs,” he added.

“The performance and togetherness of the forward pack in our opening two games shows that they deserve to hold their spots in the squad moving into the game against the Brumbies.”

Second-row Luke Jones will make his 50th Super Rugby appearance on Saturday. Jones played twice for the Western Force and will make his 48th Super Rugby appearance for the Rebels, as well as one additional Rebels cap earned against the British and Irish Lions in 2013.

Jones is on track to become just the fourth player to reach 50 Rebels caps if selected to face the Western Force in Round Five of the competition.

Former Western Force hooker Ben Whittaker has a chance to make his Rebels debut if he is called off the bench in this game, after being an unused reserve in the side's opening two matches this season.

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu

Date: Saturday 28 February
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19:40 local (08.40 GMT)
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)