Rebels flanker Jordy Reid will make his first Super Rugby start for 2015, in one of two changes to the starting lineup to face the Chiefs on Saturday at AAMI Park.
Reid, who is in his third season at the club, will start at openside flanker, while Luke Jones returns after missing the bonus point defeat against the Waratahs at ANZ Stadium last weekend.
Tom English is the final addition to the squad, as Tony McGahan reverts to a split of five forwards and three backs on his bench for the visit of the only New Zealand side that the Rebels have never defeated.
McGahan praised Reid’s work ethic in forcing his hand at the selection table.
“Jordy has earnt his start off the back of his impact from the bench in the last few rounds,” McGahan said. “We have a long stretch of games and keeping the forward pack fresh and motivated is key to this part of the season.”
Jones missed last week’s trip to Sydney after suffering a concussion against the Brumbies in Canberra, and McGahan said that the Wallaby second rower had an important role to play against one of the form sides of the competition.
“It’s great to welcome Luke back to the side; his work with ball in hand, defensively, and as a key component of both our scrum and lineout is really important to us.”
Rookie winger Sefanaia Naivalu retains his starting spot for the fifth straight match, fresh off agreeing a new contract with the club until the end of the 2017 season.
Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Sefanaia Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Jordy Reid, 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 Luke Burgess, 22 Tom English, 23 Bryce Hegarty.
Date: Saturday, May 2
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19:40 local (09:40 GMT, 21:40 NZST, 11:40 SAST)
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)