Rebels ready to go
The Melbourne Rebels have announced their match-day 22 to take on the Force in their opening Super rugby fixture at AAMI park in Melbourne on Friday.
The side from the southern city will want to get their campaign off to a winning start against another side that has battled throughout the years in Super Rugby.
The Rebels go into the season hoping that the likes of James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale can stay fit for as long as possible to allow them to get some momentum to carry them through the season.
The Melbourne side have also aquired the services of former Reds loose-forward Scott Higginbotham who they will be looking to to give them an added physical presence in the forwards.
The bench will see three new faces in Rebels colours, with former Stade de France outside back, Alex Rokoboro, Sydney University centre, Tom English, and Japanese international Shota Horie all making their debuts from the reserves bench.
Horie is certain to make history this Friday night, with the super-sub poised to become the first Japanese player ever to play in the Super Rugby Competition, as the Rebels will open up the 2013 season from AAMI Park.
The match will also see the timely return of Laurie Weeks and Jarrod Saffy, both players who had lengthy times on the side-line in 2012, but found their way back to the rugby paddock and in the best shape of their careers.
Melbourne Rebels:15 James O'Connor, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Richard Kingi, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (captain) 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Cadeyrn Neville, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Alex Rokobaro, 22 Tom English.
Date: Friday, February 15
Venue: AAMI Park,Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.40 (08.40 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner