The Melbourne Rebels are set to blood their second academy graduate in 2022, with nineteen-year-old Daniel Maiava named to make his Super Rugby debut on Friday night against the Fijian Drua.
It’s been an impressive twelve months for the proud Victorian, with Maiava winning Queensland’s GPS Rugby Forward of the Year award, before signing with his hometown Rebels and excelling for the Rebels A and Junior Wallabies sides.
Maiava’s promotion caps an exciting time for the Melbourne Rebels following the Club playing a record number of Victorian-based players over the past two seasons, in addition to the Rebels’ improving form, and a resurgence in grassroots participation across the state as a new season of club rugby dawns.
Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Kevin Foote said Maiava’s selection was a testament to the strong growth of rugby in Victoria.
“It’s fantastic to be debuting another homegrown boy in Daniel and continuing that next wave of Burn Boys coming through our pathway systems and winning the opportunity to play Super Rugby,” said Foote.
“Daniel hasn’t put a foot wrong since joining our Club and becoming part of our culture. His work at training and his performances for the Rebels A have been awesome, and he thoroughly deserves this moment.
“As a Club, we’re driven to do everything in our best abilities to help our young Victorian guys succeed, so we’re all very excited for Daniel, his family and everyone who’s put their time, love, and energy into developing him.”
Maiava’s promotion is one eight changes to this week’s side to face the Fijian Drua at AAMI Park.
Robust forward Matt Gibbon receives his first start of the year, joining Jordan Uelese and Cabous Eloff in the front row.
A pair of concussions to Josh Canham and Tamati Ioane has led to Josh Hill pairing with Matt Philip for the first time this season, while Brad Wilkin returns to starting flanker, alongside Richard Hardwick and Michael Wells, who now shifts back to No.8.
James Tuttle has been named at scrumhalf and will combine with Matt To’omua, who enjoyed a strong outing at the SCG, scoring 12 points from 4 penalty goals.
Vice-Captain Reece Hodge will start at full-back, while Andrew Kellaway and Glen Vaihu pair on the wings for the third consecutive game with the duo combining for 178 metres from 20 runs last week, beating 8 defenders in total.
The experienced James Hanson has been recalled to the senior side, named alongside Cameron Orr, Rhys Van Nek, Daniel Maiava and Sam Wallis on the bench.
Joe Powell will be called upon as the backup No.9, with Carter Gordon and the returning George Worth completing the Rebels 23-man squad.
Friday night’s contest shapes as a memorable occasion for the local community in more ways than one, with the Rebels using the fixture to pay tribute to its Fijian community and the unrivalled impact it’s made on the Melbourne Rebels and Victorian rugby.
There will be a number of pre-match activations including a Rugby Victoria kids clinic, passing contest giveaways and Rebels men’s player signings.
The Rebels will also be celebrating its number one ticket holders, Maciu and Kylie Vosa, along with their two children Ezekia and Ariella at the Accenture Chairman’s Club.
Lastly, our Round 6 clash will see Amber McLaughlin become the first Victorian match official appointed to a Super Rugby game, named as Assistant Referee 2, while Oli Kellett has been chosen as the Television Match Official (TMO) for the second time in his career.
The Melbourne Rebels face the Fijian Drua in Round 6 of the Super Rugby Pacific season, kicking off at 7:45 PM (AEDT). The math will be shown ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sports.
Melbourne Rebels Injury List:
Trevor Hosea – Foot (Round 12– 13)
Pone Fa’amausili – Calf (Round 11- 12)
Rob Leota – Hamstring (Round 10-11)
Josh Kemeny – ACL (TBC)
Josh Canham – Concussion (Round 8)
Tamati Ioane – Concussion (Round 8)
Ross Haylett-Petty- Concussion (Round 8)
Lachie Anderson – Groin (TBC)
Joe Pincus – Groin (TBC)
Jeral Skelton – ACL (Round 8)