Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Kevin Foote has named his side for the Rebels’ Round 5 primetime Australian blockbuster against the Queensland Reds on Saturday night, with emerging stars Glen Vaihu and Daniel Maiava, returning to the field.
Maiava and Vaihu are back in action for the first time this year after impressive 2022 campaigns.
An lower leg injury to Richard Hardwick has provided the exciting Vaiolini Ekuasi with his first starting opportunity in the back row, while David Feliuai will look to continue his impressive start to his Super Rugby career, named at 12, with Stacey Ili shifting 13, replacing the injured Reece Hodge.
Ili has been one of the competition’s strongest centres this season, registering the fourth highest carries (43) and eighth highest metres run (372) in the league.
Meanwhile, Joe Pincus has been named for his second start of the 2023 Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific season, after overcoming a niggling quad injury.
Saturday will be a memorable day for the Melbourne Rebels in more ways than one, with the Club hosting its first double header of 2023, as the Rebels Super W team kicks-off its season.
The Round 5 clash will also present the first match Alex Mafi has faced against his former side.
Mafi said he’s excited for the challenge.
“The game means a lot to us in terms of our season, and we’re just really focused on getting the win and playing exciting rugby in front of our fans, who have been great this season, “said Mafi.
These games between the Rebels and Reds are always good games traditionally, and have normally gone down to the wire, and have been great spectacles to watch in terms of free flowing, exciting rugby.
“We’ll be looking to continue that, and we’ve been able to showcase that ability to score and swing the ball and have some fun, playing footy that’s inspiring.”
Melbourne Rebels Match Day 23 vs Reds
1 Matt Gibbon
2 Alex Mafi
3 Sam Talakai
4 Trevor Hosea
5 Tuaina Taii Tualima
6 Josh Kemeny
7 Brad Wilkin
8 Vaiolini Ekuasi
9 Ryan Louwrens
10 Carter Gordon
11 Monty Ioane
12 David Feliuai
13 Stacey Ili
14 Lachie Anderson
15 Joe Pincus
16 Anaru Rangi
17 Cabous Eloff
18 Pone Fa'amausili
19 Angelo Smith
20 Daniel Maiava
21 James Tuttle
22 Glen Vaihu
23 Nick Jooste