Rebels chop and change for ‘Canes

Date published: March 26 2015

Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made several changes to his starting XV for Friday's clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Rebels centre Mitch Inman becomes the fifth player to play 50 matches for the franchise, while co-captain Scott Higginbotham makes his 100th Super Rugby appearance.

Tighthead prop Laurie Weeks will also overtake former player Hugh Pyle as the most-capped player in the franchise’s history, moving to 59 Rebels caps.

McGahan was pleased to see the players reach these milestones, and stressed the importance of acknowledging them.

“Mitch is a very important part of the Club and his search for continual improvement in his game makes him a vital part of the clubs growth going forward,” he said.

“Reaching a century of Super Rugby appearances is a great sign of Scott’s form and durability over a long period of time in a very demanding competition.

“Laurie has been the constant at the Rebels and his spirit and passion for the club is evident daily; it inspires those around him as we continue to improve as a Club.

"I’m delighted for all three players, and it’s really important that we acknowledge these milestones for the individuals and the Squad.”

Other highlights of the announcement see Sefanaia Naivalu named for his first Super Rugby start, potential Rebels debuts for Radike Samo and Tom Sexton, and returns to the matchday squad for Jack Debreczeni, Ben Meehan and Cadeyrn Neville.

McGahan was confident that the side he has selected are capable of securing a positive result in Wellington, and was looking forward to watching Naivalu in his run-on debut.

“Sefa has continued his introduction to Super Rugby through gathering time every week at the back end of games, and having a real impact,” he said.

“We are all looking forward to his starting debut, as he has sacrificed plenty and worked extremely hard to get to this position.”

Dom Shipperley was earlier this week ruled out for 4 to 6 weeks with a hand injury, while utility forward Lopeti Timani will be rested this week after playing all five games so far this season.

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Sefanaia Naivalu, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Colby Fainga’a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Jonah Placid.

Date: Friday, March 27
Venue: Wellington Regional Stadium
Kick-off: 19.35 local (06.35 GMT, 17.35 AEST, 08.35 SAST)
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)