Melbourne Rebels Captain Dane Haylett-Petty and Vice-Captain Angus Cottrell have been named to make their return to the Rebels’ starting XV to face the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Haylett-Petty has successfully rehabilitated a foot injury sustained in Round 5 against the Lions, while Cottrell has overcome concussion to become available for selection in the Club’s Trans-Tasman fixture.
While the Melburnians regain two star players, the side has lost starting lock Adam Coleman, who has succumbed to injury.
Coleman’s absence has caused a reshuffle in the second row, with Luke Jones moving from flanker to lock, while Rob Leota has replaced the injured Richard Hardwick at Seven.
Positionally, Tetera Faulkner has been promoted to starting prop and Reece Hodge has moved to centre, leaving Matt Gibbon and Billy Meakes to start on the bench.
Victorian forward Pone Fa’amausili has been selected in the reserves, while Haylett-Petty’s return has resulted in centre Sione Tuipulotu being squeezed out of the side.
Melbourne Head Coach Dave Wessels says the return of Haylett-Petty and Cottrell to the team will give his side a much-needed boost.
“Dane’s the captain of our team, and just having his leadership will be good,” Wessels said.
“Hodgey did a really good job for us at full back so it wasn’t a straight forward decision but it’s great from a leadership perspective to have Dane back.”
“Gussy is a big leader for us in the pack…he leads through his actions and again, the forwards really respect him for that."
While Cottrell returns to the forward pack, the Melburnians will lose former skipper Adam Coleman to injury.
However, Wessels says he has full confidence in the ability of Luke Jones and Matt Philip to cover the loss of their starting lock.
“Adam Coleman was ruled out of the game, he’s got a bit of a niggly shoulder,” Wessels said.
“It shows the confidence we have in guys like (Luke) Jones and Matt Philip, those guys have played lock for us early in the season really effectively."
Melbourne will look to return to the winners list after succumbing to two straight losses against the Stormers and the Waratahs.
Wessels says his chargers feel refreshed after their final bye of 2019, are ready to launch into retaining and extending their lead a top of the Australian Conference.
“We all needed the bye, we needed to refresh ourselves a little bit. You can see from the energy in the team meeting and things this morning that guys are feeling good,” Wessels said.
“We’ve probably been disappointed in the way that we’ve played in the last two games, we haven’t played to the level, regardless of the result, just the way we want to play and the intensity that we want to play with.”
“What’s really the focus this week is we want to get back to the rugby that we think the people of Melbourne will be proud of, so if we can do that then we’ll feel good.”
Melbourne Match Day 23 v Hurricanes, Saturday 20 April, kick off 3:15pm (EST)
Ins: Angus Cottrell, Pone Fa’amausili, Dane Haylett-Petty (c)
Outs: Adam Coleman, Richard Hardwick, Sione Tuipulotu
1. Tetera Faulkner
2. Anaru Rangi
3. Jermaine Ainsley
4. Luke Jones
5. Matt Philip
6. Angus Cottrell
7. Rob Leota
8. Isi Naisarani
9. Will Genia
10. Quade Cooper
11. Marika Koroibete
12. Reece Hodge
13. Tom English
14. Jack Maddocks
15. Dane Haylett-Petty (c)
16. Hugh Roach
17. Matt Gibbon
18. Sam Talakai
19. Ross Haylett-Petty
20. Pone Fa’amausili
21. Michael Ruru
22. Billy Meakes
23. Campbell Magnay