Super Round Melbourne to Showcase Rebels New and Local Talent

Wed, Feb 28, 2024, 2:42 AM
Rebels Media
by Rebels Media

Super Round in Melbourne has finally arrived, with the Rebels announcing their match day 23 for their Friday night clash with the Western Force on home soil.   

Rebels Head Coach, Kevin Foote, has made five changes to this week’s Starting XV, including seeing 51 Test Wallaby Taniela Tupou and hooker Alex Mafi move to the starting front row. After bringing spark off the bench last week James Tuttle will get his first start for the ‘24 season at scrum half while Matt Proctor makes his debut for the Melbourne Super Rugby side in the number 13 jersey, with Filipo Daugunu shifting to the wing.  

In what will be a rugby fanatic’s dream weekend, all 12 Super Rugby Pacific teams will descend Melbourne for six epic games over the three-day event. Each club will be showcasing their biggest and best talents, with international stars and local heroes taking the field of AAMI Park. None of these players more exciting for the local fans than the Melbourne Rebels' latest debutant, Matt Proctor.  

Proctor makes his long-awaited return to Super Rugby, following four seasons in the English Premiership, playing for the Northampton Saints, alongside Rebels teammate Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.  

A powerful centre carrying a wealth of Super Rugby title-winning and international experience, Proctor will be looking to stretch and break the Western Force defences with his hard-running style of play.  

Rounding out the powerful front row alongside Taneila Tupou and Alex Mafi will be loosehead prop and capped Wallaby, Matt Gibbon. Round 1 second row pair Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Josh Canham, maintain their ongoing combination in the engine room of the pack with back-to-back starts.  

The lethal trio of Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin and captain Rob Leota bring threats to every aspect of the breakdown, with their ability to shift bodies, endless work rate, resolute defence and work off the ball.  

The experienced combination of James Tuttle and Carter Gordon brings a new edge to the starting team, in a move designed to unlock the full potential of one of the competition's most threatening backlines.  

Inside centre, David Feliuai has been tasked with pressuring the opposition alongside midfield partner Matt Proctor. Lachie Anderson and new Rebel Filipo Daugunu are loaded on the wings with the ever-reliable Andrew Kellaway in the 15 jersey.  

With the starting front row changes, Sam Talakai and Jordan Uelese shift to the bench to bring late-game punch alongside local Rebel Isaac Kailea. Tuaina Taii Tualima and Vaiolini Ekuasi make up the remaining forward contingent for the finishers.  

After starting every game of the 2023 season, renowned fan favourite Ryan Louwrens will make his return to the team as reserve half back, in what is the most hotly contested position of the squad. Versatile pair Jake Strachan and Nick Jooste complete the reserve list for the team’s Round 2 clash.  

Speaking to media today, after reaching his 50th Super Rugby Cap over the weekend, Brad Wilkin reiterated the sentiments of past weeks and the role Melbourne fans play on game day. “Our fan support is huge for the playing group,” he said. “Having the support of our fans means a lot to us. If I can encourage anyone to get down to Super Round, buy a ticket and come support the team and Rugby in Melbourne.” 

Not only is it the biggest weekend of Super Rugby on the calendar in Burn City, but it will also be a great week jam-packed full of local rugby events. Local clubs are hosting Super Rugby Open training sessions across Melbourne as well as a Rebels signing session on Gosch’s Paddock for Day 1 of Super Round.  

The local action doesn't stop there, with a Rebels Rugby Saturday down at Moorabbin Rams Rugby Club, who will be hosting both the Rebels A Rebels Super Rugby Women’s Trial and  match against the Western Force, with games kicking off in the early afternoon on March 2. 

Make sure to keep an eye out for updates on the Melbourne Rebels and Rugby Victoria social channels for more information.  

The Melbourne Rebels face the Western Force in Round 2 of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season, on Day 1 of Super Round Melbourne. Kicking off at 8:10 PM (AEDT), Friday, March 1 at AAMI Park. The match will be shown ad-free, live and on-demand on Stan Sport. 

  

Starting Team  

1.    MATT GIBBON 

2.    ALEX MAFI 

3.    TANIELA TUPOU 

4.    JOSH CANHAM 

5.    LUKHAN SALAKAIA-LOTO  

6.    JOSH KEMENY 

7.    BRAD WILKIN 

8.    ROB LEOTA (c) 

9.   JAMES TUTTLE 

10.   CARTER GORDON 

11.    FILIPO DAUGUNU 

12.    DAVID FELIUAI 

13.    MATT PROCTOR* 

14.    LACHIE ANDERSON 

15.    ANDREW KELLAWAY  

Reserves  

16.   JORDAN UELESE 

17.    ISAAC KAILEA 

18.   SAM TALAKAI 

19.    TUAIANA TAII TUALIMA 

20.    VAIOLINI EKUASI 

21.    RYAN LOUWRENS 

22.    JAKE STRACHAN 

23.    NICK JOOSTE  

 

*Denotes Rebels Debut  

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