Melbourne Rebels set for Weary Dunlop Shield Clash

Wed, Mar 27, 2024, 2:00 AM
Rebels Media
by Rebels Media

Headlining the match day 23 is a pair of Rebels who have made their mark on the Melbourne club’s legacy. Running out for their 50th Rebels game, Captain Rob Leota and club leader Sam Talakai take the field together, notching up their individual milestones after spending multiple seasons as teammates.

Matt Gibbon, Jordan Uelese, and Sam Talakai lead the charge in the starting front row, backed up by the lock pairing of local Angelo Smith and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.

Josh Kemeny returns from injury making his way into openside flanker and will be joined in the back row by Rob Leota and Tuaina Taii Tualima.

The half combination of Ryan Louwrens and flyhalf Carter Gordon continues to be the consistent choice as starting pivots, offering up fast ball for the backs.

David Feliuai will line up alongside the returning Filipo Daugunu in the midfield, looking to replicate their attacking form against the Western Force.

International Sevens young gun Darby Lancaster will make his debut for the Melbourne side, with the speedster slotting straight into the starting team after spending 2023 dominating the Sevens circuit and staring at the U20 World Cup with the Australian U20s team in South Africa.

The 20-year-old will be looking to use his pace out wide and replicate his try scoring form alongside wing partner Lachie Anderson. Jake Strachan moves into starting fullback and will look to provide support and connection from the back.

Captain Rob Leota is excited about the Rebels' match up against the Waratahs, and is focused on doing his job for the group and his teammates. Speaking to Rebels Media, the Victorian leader is looking forward to Friday night, “to be able to run out there, Captain the team, be alongside Sammy and play our 50th game for the Rebels is going to be special.”

Speaking on his milestone, starting prop Sam Talakai echoed his captain’s feelings. “It is a pretty cool achievement individually, but my focus is on the team’s performance.” He expressed the motivation of the group and the keenness to do a job against the Waratahs and put in a performance for fans that they will be proud of.

The front row impact players remain unchanged from last week, with Cabous Eloff, Alex Mafi and Taniela Tupou bringing late game energy. Mafi’s entrance into the Round 5 clash was crucial to the Rebels’ second half return, running with ball in hand, he was a threat on the edge and at set piece.

Josh Canham will slot into the replacement lock position, alongside back row impact players Maciu Nabolakasi and the dangerous Vaiolini Ekuasi.

Ekuasi’s best form has come from the bench, making the most of his physicality and work rate against tired defences. Adding an element of tempo, Nick Jooste and James Tuttle round out the team for the Weary Dunlop Shield match up.

The Melbourne Rebels face the NSW Waratahs in Round 6 of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season, kicking off at 7:35 PM (AEDT), Friday, March 29 at Allianz Stadium. The match will be shown ad-free, live and on-demand on Stan Sports.

Starting Team

1. MATT GIBBON

2. JORDAN UELESE

3. SAM TALAKAI

4. ANGELO SMITH

5. LUKHAN SALAKAIA-LOTO

6. TUAIANA TAII TUALIMA

7. JOSH KEMENY

8. ROB LEOTA (c)

9. RYAN LOUWRENS

10. CARTER GORDON

11. DARBY LANCASTER**

12. DAVID FELIUAI

13. FILIPO DAUGUNU

14. LACHIE ANDERSON

15. JAKE STRACHAN

Reserves

16. ALEX MAFI

17. CABOUS ELOFF

18. TANIELA TUPOU

19. JOSH CANHAM

20. MACIU NABOLAKASI

21. VAIOLINI EKUASI

22. JAMES TUTTLE

23. NICK JOOSTE

** Denotes Super Rugby Pacific Debut

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