The Melbourne Rebels will enter this week’s Pasifika Round welcoming back a host of senior players including homegrown Rebel, Pone Fa'amausili.
The hulking front-rower has been named for his first match since Round 9 in last year’s Super Rugby AU competition, after successfully recovering from a calf injury.
Fa’amausili is one of three key inclusions for this week’s clash against Moana Pasifika, with Wallaby Richard Hardwick returning to the right-side flank, while first-year sensation Raymond Nu’u slots back to the Starting XV, joining Stacey Ili at centre.
Following last week’s performance against the Crusaders, Carter Gordon receives another chance to impress at 10.
Gordon will start at the halves with James Tuttle for the first time this season, while Andrew Kellaway shifts back to right-wing alongside Glen Vaihu and Reece Hodge in the back-three.
Meanwhile fly-half Nick Jooste has been rewarded for an impressive block of training and a trio of strong performances for the Rebels A side, by being named for his second Super Rugby match in Rebels’ colours.
The twenty-four-year-old will provide second-half support alongside George Worth, the experienced Joe Powell, Tamati Ioane, Josh Hill, the returning Fa’amausili, Matt Gibbon and hooker Efi Ma’afu.
Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Kevin Foote said Saturday night shapes as a crucial contest in what is the Club’s third consecutive match on AAMI Park soil.
“Our energy is really high, and everybody is just so excited for this week’s challenge against an opponent we have a lot of respect for,” said Foote.
“It’s going to be another special week for our Club celebrating our Pasifika community and the impact it’s had on Victorian rugby. We’ll get to wear our Pasifika jersey for the first time, while welcoming back three key guys in Pone, Ray and Dickie, who’s done really well to comeback after just one week out.
“Moana Pasifika are a proud Club with a lot to play for. They’re an exciting team that’s very physical, so our players know what’s ahead of them.
“We’re all prepared for what’s coming this Saturday night.”
After two stirring performances against high quality opposition, the Rebels will be chasing their third win of the season as they look to close the gap on the eighth-placed Western Force with the post-season now just five-weeks away.
The Club will also be using their Saturday night clash to celebrate the fantastic contribution the Pasifika community has made to the Melbourne Rebels and the wider Victorian rugby community.
As part of the celebrations, the Rebels will wear its first ever Cultural Jersey, designed by Melbourne-born Fijian artist Pauliasi Loganimasi, which can be purchased online here.
The Rebels will be holding a number of pre-game activities including food and drink trucks, live music performances and a ten-a-side women’s rugby match on Gosch’s Paddock.
To be a part of this exciting evening, click here.
The Melbourne Rebels face Moana Pasifika in Round 11 of the Super Rugby Pasific season, kicking off at 7:45 PM (AEST). The match will be shown on 9GEM and ad-free, live and on-demand on Stan Sports.