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Rebels ring the changes

13th March 2014 04:14

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Tom English Rebels super rugby

Starts: Tom English

Rebels' head coach Tony McGahan has made several changes to his team ahead of Friday's clash with the Crusaders at AAMI Park.

After a forced late withdrawal last week, 2013 Rebels' Rookie of the Year Tom English returns to the left wing, with Lachlan Mitchell named on the right wing and last week's try=scorer Telusa Veainu providing outside back cover from the bench.

McGahan believed English's return was a real positive for the team.

"Tom English is really important to us, and we saw that during the trial games and also against the Cheetahs," he said.

"His carrying ability gets us over the gain line, he is a great talker and has a great defensive mindset, and to have him back on the edge allows him to show off all of those qualities."

Paul Alo-Emile and Max Lahiff drop to the reserves, replaced in the front-row by Toby Smith and Laurie Weeks, while Scott Fuglistaller returns to the side after missing the trip west.

"With the demands placed on props, I want to keep things moving and will continue to swap those players throughout the season," McGahan explained.

"We're lucky enough that we have a good stable of props there, and that they will all get time.

"Scott has had a huge workload over the pre-season and through the games, so far him to have a bit of a re-charge before having a good go at it now has been terrific. Scott brings a real edge to our play in terms of physicality, but he also brings a real mental edge to the group and helps provide Scott Higginbotham with some extra leadership on the field."

Second-rower Luke Jones and Bryce Hegarty are rewarded for strong cameos off the bench in Perth, replacing Cadeyrn Neville and Angus Roberts respectively.

"Both came on and held their own on the weekend. Luke has been in terrific form throughout the trials and Super Rugby; he's had a huge workload, playing almost 80 minutes for all of those matches, so we gave him a bit of a break last week and we can bring him back into the starting group. Bryce needed the opportunity to stay off and watch some footy off the bench, and to be able to transfer what he saw into his performance when he came on the field; we're looking forward to him starting for us this weekend."

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 Shota Horie, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Angus Roberts, 23 Telusa Veainu.

Date: Friday, March 14
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.40 local (08.40 GMT)
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)

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