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Rebels change six for Force

06th March 2014 07:47

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Max Lahiff Melbourne Rebels training SR 2014

Max Lahiff: Will make his first start for the Rebels

Rebels boss Tony McGahan has made six changes to his starting XV for Saturday's encounter with the Western Force in Perth.

Max Lahiff is named for his first Rebels start alongside Pat Leafa and Paul Alo-Emile in a new-look front row, while third-year Rebel Cadeyrn Neville replaces Luke Jones in the second row.

Former Brumby Colby Fainga'a and former Waratah Tom Kingston are also named for their first Rebels starts, after cameos off the benchin last weekend's win over the Cheetahs, while Angus Roberts replaces Bryce Hegarty at fly-half.

Japanese international Shota Horie is named in the matchday squad for the first time this season, while backrower Lopeti Timani is also named on the interchange and has a chance to make his Rebels debut.

McGahan is pleased with the depth of the squad, and believes that the inclusions into the forward pack have earned their opportunity.

"We are very lucky at the club that we have a very strong front row," he said.

"We need to continue the competition there, with all of those guys playing very well throughout the pre-season and last week against the Cheetahs. This week, we swap them around and Max and Paul get the opportunity to start.

"e also have Cruze Ah-Nau and Eddie Aholelei waiting in the wings and eager to play, so we are delighted with the quality of the props that we have at this stage.

"Cadeyrn Neville and Colby Fainga'a both had strong pre-seasons and trained exceptionally well, with huge improvement across all facets of their game.

"Those two were really clear contributors last week when they came off the bench, so we're looking forward to see what they can deliver when they start this week."

McGahan is also looking forward to seeing Kingston make his first Rebels start. While praising Lachlan Mitchell, who drops to the bench this week, for a strong performance against the Cheetahs, the head coach wants Kingston to play his own game rather than try and emulate Mitchell.

"One thing we know about Tom is that he is a real athlete, and he possesses tremendous speed and tremendous endurance," explained McGahan.

"He is a real out-and-out finisher, and he will give us a really clear dimension around how we want to play this weekend. Lachlan Mitchell was a really good contributor last week and cleaned up a lot defensively and at the breakdown; he was very strong at the edge.

"Tom is a different player, but we are looking for him to bring his own way of doing things into the side this week."

Rebels' captain Scott Higginbotham is looking forward to seeing Fainga'a make an impact from the opening minutes of the match, and is looking forward to seeing Roberts team up with Luke Burgess as part of a new halves combination.

"Colby's very good on the ball, and being in the starting line-up gives him a good chance to feel his way into the game," said Higginbotham.

"He's a good ball runner, and he has all the skills and attributes to be a great backrower; it will be fantastic to have him out there.

"Luke has the experience under his belt to gel with any quality fly-half. He's a fantastic scrumhalf, and 'Gussy' will be very excited to play some footy from the opening minute. This is an opportunity that I am sure he is keen to make the most of."

Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Lachlan Mitchell.

Date: Saturday, March 8
Kick-off: 16:40 local (08:40 GMT)
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)

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1Waratahs1658
2Brumbies1645
3Western Force1640
4Reds1628
5Melbourne Rebels1621