Electric Box Hill backs Delai Moto and Lolohea Loco have been selected to start for the Melbourne Rising ahead of the team’s final match of the 2019 NRC campaign.
In the only other change to the starting XV to take on Brisbane City, Ikapote Tupai replaces Richard Hardwick at openside flanker after the Wallaby failed a concussion test.
Despite finals football being out of the equation for the Rising, coach Pom Simona expected his charges to revel in the chance to play a game with the clarity that this match would be their last of 2019.
“There’s no looking at the ladder this week or worrying about the ramifications of the other results,” noted Simona.
“The boys know this will be their last hit out of the year and many of these guys won’t be strapping on their boots for quite some time after Saturday, so they won’t need to leave anything in the tank.
“Naturally, you will see the lads play with a little more flair and attacking endeavour. I think it’s going to be a great spectacle; particularly with Brisbane desperate to achieve a bonus point as well.”
Simona concedes the inclusion of Moto and Loco in the re-jigged backline will promote a more unpredictable element to the Rising’s game.
“Delai offers some speed at the base of the ruck for us and can bring some energy to our game. “I think he has lifted the tempo well whenever he has come on late in matches for us.
“Lolohea has slogged away all campaign for us and brought a great energy to training so I’m excited to see him get his chance in the run on XV.
“It’s a testament to how much he has developed over the space of the program and demonstrates how important the NRC is in bridging the gap between the professional and amateur levels of the game,” stated Simona.
Despite being out of contention for the finals, opponents Brisbane City can still mathematically make the final four; a fact not lost on Simona.
“This is their quarter final effectively.
With one team desperate to win and another team with nothing to lose, it’ll make for a fascinating game of rugby.”
Rising team to face Brisbane City this Saturday 12 October in Brisbane.
1. Matt Gibbon
2. Mahe Vailanu
3. Vaauli Faamausili
4. Ross Haylett-Petty
5. Esei Haangana
6. Luke Jones
7. Ikapote Tupai
8. Rob Leota
9. Delai Moto
10. Rodney Iona
11. Ahmu Tuimalealiifano
12. James Sooialo
13. William Lewesi
14. Lolohea Loco
15. Justin Marsters
16. Moli Soomalelangi
17. Tetera Faulkner
18. Jermaine Ainsley
19. Will Clift
20. Pat Morrey
21. Theo Strang
22. Taylor Acheson
23. Navarre Haisila