Coach Tony McGahan has named rookie flank Sean McMahon as one of eight new faces in the Rebels team to face the Cheetahs.
Coach Tony McGahan has named rookie flank Sean McMahon as one of eight new faces in the Rebels team to face the Cheetahs on Friday.
Three players will have the opportunity to taste Super Rugby action for the first time, with Ben Meehan and Max Lahiff also being named on the bench for the Melbourne team's first game of the 2014 Super Rugby season.
The 19-year-old McMahon, Australia's youngest-ever Sevens representative, has played only a handful of 15-man games in the past two years but impressed enough in the pre-season to earn a starting berth.
Alongside the debutants, All Black Tamati Ellison will make his first appearance for the Rebels in Super Rugby joining two-time Super Rugby winner and former Chiefs prop Toby Smith, while former Waratah Tom Kingston, former Crusader Steve Fuala and former Brumby Colby Fainga'a are named on the bench.
McMahon said he felt a cluster of emotions when he first heard the news.
“I was a bit stunned, a bit nervous; there were lots of different emotions, but mainly I was excited,” said McMahon.
“I'm really happy to be in the run-on side, so I can get straight in and get a feel for it. I just want to contribute to a strong first-up performance, and go from there.”
For scrum-half Ben Meehan, tasting some of the action would represent the realisation of a childhood dream.
“I'm very, very excited to be named in the 23,” said Meehan.
“I've always wanted to play professional Rugby, and I just want to do my family proud.
“I'm so pumped to run out at AAMI Park in front of a packed Melbourne Crowd, and I'm sure the atmosphere will be electric.”
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Steve Fualau, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Angus Roberts, 23 Tom Kingston.
Date: Friday, February 28
Kick-off: 19:40 (08:40 GMT)
Venue: AAMI Stadium
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matt O'Brien (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)