No place for Hodge in Rebels team
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Melbourne Rebels have made four changes to their starting XV for their Super Rugby Round Four clash against the Brumbies on Friday.
Prop Matt Gibbon, hooker Robbie Abel and flank Rob Leota have all been named to make their first starts for the Rebels.
Adam Coleman will make his first start at lock for 2019, with Luke Jones to begin the game in the reserves, while No.8 Ross Haylett-Petty has also been named on the bench and is in line to potentially come on the ground for his first cap of the year.
Melbourne Rebels head coach Dave Wessels says the amount of changes to the team’s forward pack mainly came down to managing the side ahead of two consecutive months of matches.
However, Wessels maintained that players wanting to crack into the matchday 23 would still need to earn their way into the side through strong form.
“In order to win Super Rugby, you need a good squad and there’s been guys who have trained and competed in the last couple of weeks who deserve a go,” Wessels said.
“Anybody who’s not at full capacity, we shouldn’t be putting in there just based on reputation.
“We need to be smart, we’ve got a run of eight games continuously, so we need to have the fresher players available all the time.”
The competition for spots in the side was a key factor in the decision to not promote Reece Hodge to a starting position in what is an unchanged Rebels backline.
Wessels says while Hodge has not put a foot wrong in his comeback, his position on the bench was due to the strong performances from the two players already occupying the centre positions.
“It’s probably just a reflection of Tom English and Billy Meakes doing a good job for us in the midfield,” Wessels said.
“Reece is the ultimate professional and we do everything we ask of him, but we want payers to feel that they have to warrant their performances at all time, so Hodgey is doing everything in his power but the other guys are working hard to keep their spots too.”
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT UPDATE | Our side to face the Brumbies at home this Friday night is 🔒in after a rearrangement of playing numbers.
— Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) March 6, 2019
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Rob Leota, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Richard Hardwick, 22 Michael Ruru, 23 Reece Hodge.
Date: Friday, March 8
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.45 (08.45 GMT)
Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)