Melbourne Rebels Head Coach David Wessels has made three changes to his side ahead of Friday night’s home opener against the Waratahs.
Richard Hardwick, Ryan Louwrens and Campbell Magnay have been brought into a Rebels starting XV that is trying to get it hands on the Weary Dunlop Shield for the first time since 2016.
While “pleased in parts” with some of the performances last week, the Wessels believes a new approach was required, as the team looks to avoid another costly slow start.
“What we found in the back row, we wanted someone to play directly to the ball, that’s why Dickie [Richard] Hardwick has come into the mix,” Wessels said.
“Dickie for his specialist skills on the ground and the impression he’s made in the backend of games, gets the reward.”
Wessels was philosophical about the challenge presented by a new look Waratahs outfit under coach Rob Penney.
“It’s funny, I read some stuff about the Waratahs; they seem to get a free license because they talk about this young squad they have.”
“I really only see only one young guy they have, maybe two young guys in there, and I think we’ve got the same - that’s the nature of Super Rugby at the moment.” Ryan Louwrens will start at the scrumhalf, following a strong second-half showing against the Brumbies.
“He’s a physical, confrontational nine.”
“I think Ryan probably is one of those players who does more through actions than through words.”
“(He) doesn’t say a lot but he’s incredibly fit, he’s incredibly fast, he’s got a good pass on him and I think all of our nines, we’re lucky they’re quite confrontational in a way, so we could use them defensively in different ways we might not be able to use some other nines,” Wessels noted.
Campbell Magnay comes in at outside centre, making his first start of the 2020 Super Rugby season, allowing the dynamic Reece Hodge to move to the wing.
The Melbourne Rebels tackle the Waratahs at AAMI Park this Friday at 7:15pm (AEDT), with the Rebels and Waratahs also opening their Super-W seasons at 4:35pm (AEDT)