The Melbourne Rebels have named their team to face the Queensland Reds in Round 9 of the Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific competition.
The Rebels will enter Friday night’s blockbuster chasing their third straight victory for the first time since 2019, as the Club looks to close the gap on the 8th placed Western Force.
Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Kevin Foote has made four changes to his starting XV headlined by the inclusion of Tamati Ioane, who is set to play his first match since the Rebels’ Round 5 clash against the NSW Waratahs at the SCG on March 19.
The powerfully built flanker joins Richard Hardwick and Captain Michael Wells in the back row, while Josh Hill pairs with Matt Philip in the second row for the second time this season.
Last week’s clash in Perth saw Philip produce one his strongest performances since arriving at The Stockade in 2018, with the Wallabies’ lock dominating the lineouts, while making 11 tackles and running for 21 metres from a team-high 8 runs.
Up front, the experienced James Hanson combines with Matt Gibbon and Cabous Eloff, replacing Jordan Uelese who’s unavailable through injury.
George Worth has been named to make his first start for the Rebels since last year’s Trans-Tasman final against the Crusaders at Leichardt Oval.
Worth has been named on the right wing, with Andrew Kellaway moving to outside centre alongside Stacey Ili.
Meanwhile, Efi Ma’afu is set to play his fourth game of season 2022, with the twenty-four-year-old named as a replacement alongside Cameron Orr, Rhys Van Nek, Josh Canham, Brad Wilkin, Sam Wallis, Joe Powell and Carter Gordon.
After an impressive fortnight, Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Kevin Foote said his side was determined to build on its momentum and put in a great performance in-front of the Rebels’ loyal supporters on Friday night.
“Travelling over to Perth to grab our second win in a row was great for our confidence,” said Foote.
“We stuck to our plan, hung in tight and were really pleased with the engagement and leadership from our senior players who led from the kick-off.
“The energy around our group the past month has been fantastic and everybody at our Club is determined to keep this momentum going.
“We’re excited for this week’s challenge against the Reds at home. George Worth comes into the back three, while Josh Hill has been rewarded for his efforts and will start in the second row. We’re also thrilled to welcome back the physicality of Tamati Ioane, who comes straight into our Starting XV.
“It’s going to be a big couple of weeks for our community, so we’re looking forward to continuing our strong form and putting on a show for our passionate fans.”
This week’s clash is the first of three exciting weeks for the Melbourne Rebels and Victorian rugby in general, with the Rebels scheduled to play three-straight games at AAMI Park, including a historic Round 10 Super Round blockbuster against the Crusaders.
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The Melbourne Rebels face the Queensland Reds in Round 9 of the Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific competition, kicking off at 7:45 PM on Friday April 15. The clash will be broadcast ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport.