Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has shown faith in the 23 who defeated the Reds at AAMI Park a fortnight ago, naming an unchanged starting lineup and matchday squad for the Round 10 clash against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
Tamati Ellison will make his 100th Super Rugby appearance, after moving to the Rebels ahead of the 2014 Super Rugby season, and will continue the midfield partnership he has forged with Mitch Inman, while there is also a potential Super Rugby debut for reserve prop Tim Metcher and a return to Canberra for former Brumby Colby Fainga’a.
McGahan said it was difficult picking his team this week after the Rebels had a bye in Round 9.
"We have close to a full list available for selection, and it’s been a competitive time on the training field since we resumed following a short break," he said.
"We’re starting to develop some genuine depth here, and it’s not an easy team to break into.
"Those who weren’t selected will have the opportunity to play in the Dewar Shield and continue to stake their claims for inclusion moving forward."
McGahan paid tribute to Ellison, whose impact since his move to Melbourne has been profound.
"With such a young squad, it’s fantastic to have somebody of Tamati’s demeanour in the group," McGahan said.
"He is one of the most professional players I have been involved with.
"He has a calming influence, and is able to draw upon past experiences to help us improve as individuals, staff and as a squad. Tamati’s achievement this weekend is well appreciated by all within the Rebels squad, and of course in New Zealand, where he made most of his appearances."
Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Tom English, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Sefanaia Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Jordy Reid, 22 Luke Burgess, 23 Bryce Hegarty
Date: Saturday, April 18
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19:40 local (21:40 NZST, 11:40 SAST, 09:40 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: James Leckie, Fredrico Anselmi
TMO: George Ayoub