Melbourne Rebels head coach Dave Wessels has made four changes to his starting line-up to take on the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.
This is a crucial game for the Rebels as they aim to secure the club’s first-ever Super Rugby play-off berth.
Injuries to full-back Dane Haylett-Petty (knee) and lock Geoff Parling (shoulder) have forced positional and personnel changes from last week’s match against the Reds. Meanwhile props Fereti Sa’aga and Sam Talakai earn starting spots in the Rebels’ pack in place of Tetera Faulkner and Jermaine Ainsley, who have moved to the bench.
Ross Haylett-Petty earns his first start since the Rebels’ Round 10 match against the Bulls, while Jack Maddocks shifts to full-back and Sefa Naivalu moves off the bench and onto the right wing.
Sam Jeffries and Lopeti Timani also make their returns to the matchday 23, as the Rebels opt for a 6-2 bench split.
Captain Adam Coleman (adductor) and scrum-half Will Genia (arm) will spend one more week on the sidelines, however reserve hooker Nathan Charles has shaken off any concussion concerns and will line up on the reserves bench.
Wessels said: “We’ve had a good week and are looking forward to the challenge in Dunedin.
“Everyone has embraced the areas of our performance we weren’t happy with last week. It wasn’t at the standard that we set for ourselves.
“But we know that if we play with intensity we’re capable of beating any team in this comp.
“We won’t shy away from the fact this is a big game for our club and supporters in Melbourne, just like we won’t shy away from the excitement of the reward on offer.
“We set out at the start of the season to play in a way that would make the people of Melbourne proud and we really want to do that again on Saturday night.”
Rebels: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English (c), 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Fereti Sa’aga
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Lopeti Timani
Date: Saturday, July 14
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 17:15 local (07:15 BST, 06:15 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams, Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Chris Hart