Rebels change two for Waratahs

Date published: May 22 2014

Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made two enforced changes to his starting XV for Friday's clash with the Waratahs in Melbourne.

Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made two enforced changes to his starting XV for Friday's clash with the Waratahs in Melbourne.

Rookie scrum-half Ben Meehan replaces the injured Luke Burgess in the starting line-up, with former Waratah Josh Holmes joining the Rebels' matchday squad for the first time after signing for the club a fortnight ago.

Prop Laurie Weeks misses with a minor ankle injury, allowing Paul Alo-Emile to slot into the starting line-up with Max Lahiff added to the bench.

Whilst disappointed to see Burgess join fellow scrum-half Nic Stirzaker on the injury list, McGahan is confident former Australian U20s star Meehan is capable of stepping up for his first start following five substitute appearances in his maiden Super Rugby campaign.

“Luke Burgess' injury is disappointing for us, particularly on the back of Nic Stirzaker getting injured a few weeks ago,” McGahan said.

“Luke has been in tremendous form for us, and his high energy and enthusiasm will be missed.

“Ben Meehan has been plying his trade down here and working really hard behind the scenes, and he is eager to get a start and make the most of it. We're all really confident that he can come in and deliver.”

The Waratahs have been in tremendous form, dismantling the Lions in Sydney on Sunday and currently sitting second in the Australian conference, however after a first ever victory against the Queensland Reds last weekend McGahan is confident his players can deliver back to back wins for the first time this season.

“We don't have any doubt about what our players can deliver from a work ethic and standards point of view; that has been evident really over the last nine weeks, with their terrific application,” he explained. “What we do need to make sure is that we turn up ready from a game management point of view.

“Our game management has been improving every week. Against the Waratahs, who have been in tremendous form, we need it to keep improving in order to stay connected in the game.”

McGahan is excited to be back at AAMI Park in front of the Rebels' members.

“From our point of view, being able to play at home in a derby against a finals-bound Waratahs outfit is an opportunity to play well. Back to back results would be fantastic.”

Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Steve Fualau, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Josh Holmes, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Telusa Veainu.

Date: Friday, 23 May
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.40 local (09.40 GMT, 08.40 BST)
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matt O'Brien (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)