The Melbourne Rebels will enter Sunday afternoon’s blockbuster clash against the Brumbies welcoming back two international stars.
Rebels Head Coach Kevin Foote has made two changes to last week’s Starting XV, headlined by the return of Stacey Ili and Richard Hardwick, who is set to run out for the first time since Round 4 against the Chiefs.
Hardwick was one of the Rebels best performers over the opening month, scoring three tries, while also dominating the breakdown, securing a number of crucial turnovers for Melbourne.
The dual international’s return shifts the exciting Vaiolini Ekuasi to the bench, in what will be the twenty-one-year-old’s ninth Super Rugby match in his opening season at The Stockade.
Meanwhile, Stacey Ili will strengthen the Rebels’ playmaking abilities after recovering from a head knock suffered in Round 9, pairing with Reece Hodge at centre for the seventh time this season.
The Rebels have named an unchanged back three, led by last week’s try scoring hero, Monty Ioane, who continued his impressive month, adding another tireless performance that included 5 tackles, 11 runs for 96 metres and 2 breaks and defenders beaten.
Ioane said confidence was high following last weekend’s win in New Zealand, and that the players were focused on performing for the full eighty-minutes come Sunday.
“ We’re heading into Sunday really confident and really excited to be playing in front of our fans,” said Ioane.
“Winning one away and coming back home with a good result, you can see the group has gained a lot of confidence from that, especially with our connection and the brand of rugby we’re playing, so we’re looking forward to the challenge of testing ourselves against one of the competition’s strongest teams.”
The Melbourne Rebels will use this weekend’s contest to celebrate the support, loyalty and commitment of its 2023 members.
The Fan Day Sunday will include Super Rugby and Super W meet and greetings from 12:30 pm, a Yakult Australia Young Rebels rugby skills clinics, face painting and badge making and a post-game kick on AAMI Park.
The first 800 members to show their membership card at an AAMI Park food outlet will also receive a $10 food and beverage voucher.
To be part of the Super Sunday of Rugby, click here.
Melbourne Rebels Match Day 23 vs ACT Brumbies
1. Matt Gibbon
2. Alex Mafi
3. Sam Talakai
4. Angelo Smith
5. Trevor Hosea
6. Josh Kemeny
7. Brad Wilkin (C)
8. Richard Hardwick
9. Ryan Louwrens
10. Carter Gordon
11. Monty Ioane
12. Stacey Ili
13. Reece Hodge (VC)
14. Lachie Anderson
15. Andrew Kellaway
16. Jordan Uelese
17. Cabous Eloff
18. Pone Fa’amausili
19. Tim Cardall
20. Vaiolini Ekuasi
21. James Tuttle
22. David Feliuai
23. Joe Pincus