Cooper cleared, Toomua on bench for Bulls clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Melbourne Rebels playmaker Quade Cooper has been cleared to face the Bulls on Friday while star recruit Matt Toomua has been named on the bench for the Super Rugby clash.
Cooper suffered concussion last round but has passed a fitness test to take his place in the AAMI Park match.
Wallabies No.10 Toomua only arrived in Melbourne on Monday from his stint in England with Leicester Tigers but the Rebels were keen to get him straight into the action.
Wessels said Toomua would take some pressure off Cooper as they hunt a maiden finals berth.
Having coached Toomua when he was an assistant at the Brumbies back in 2012, Wessels said he knew the 29-year-old’s game well.
“Matt’s got the opportunity to come off the bench and make an impression and we will take it from there,” coach Dave Wessels said
“He’s played a fair bit of 12 and played 15 as well at Leicester … he’s a pretty intelligent guy and he’s across some of the lingo that he needs but one of the benefits of our game is that it’s pretty simple.”
While the Rebels backline that rolled the Reds was unchanged, they have lost hard-working backrowers Isi Naisarani (toe) and Luke Jones (eye socket).
The World Cup hopefuls are likely to also miss next round’s match in Tokyo against the Sunwolves before returning to take on the Waratahs in Melbourne.
“It may be a blessing in disguise as Isi [Naisarani] probably needs a little break although he’s ben playing well for us,” Wessels said.
“We’re lucky we’ve got some depth in the back five of the scrum.”
That includes Richard Hardwick, who has been named at openside flank.
“Dickie has been a bit unlucky with injury this year but off the bench last week he got a crucial turnover in the Reds’ 22 and we’ve missed a specialist flank who plays to the ball so that’s a part of the game he will help with,” Wessels said.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Rob Leota, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Pone Fa’amausili, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Matt Toomua.
Date: Friday, May 17
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.45 (11.45 SA time; 09.45 GMT)
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Aaron Pook
TMO: Ian Smith