Rebels to use Hodge's big boot against Lions
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wallabies back Reece Hodge has returned to Melbourne’s Super Rugby starting side as the unbeaten Rebels look to harness his huge kicking boot against the Lions in Johannesburg.
Hodge has come off the bench in his last two games since recovering from a fractured ankle but the Rebels see his value on the Highveld as they search for their first ever win in South Africa.
Named on the wing, Hodge has relegated Marika Koroibete to the bench although coach Dave Wessels says he’s happy with the Test winger’s form.
“I thought Marika played really well and the Brumbies game was one of the better games I’ve seen him play,” Wessels said on Thursday.
“Hodgey brings a kicking game at altitude which could be valuable for us.
“He can kick anything pretty much the length of the field for us so he’s a handy guy to have in the mix.”
Among the changes to the line-up which over-ran the Brumbies last round, lock Luke Jones has switched to blindside flank where he has spent plenty of time through his career.
Adam Coleman and Ross Haylett-Petty are the starting second row with Matt Philip named on the bench after overcoming an infected foot which landed him in hospital for three days following the Brumbies match last Friday.
Wessels said he was surprised by Philip’s recovery.
“It’s settled down a lot and he ran yesterday and looked pretty comfortable so I’m surprised by how well it’s healed,” Wessels said.
“He’s his normal self so he will be good to go.”
— Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) March 13, 2019
Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Angus Cottrell, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23 Marika Koroibete.
Date: Saturday, March 16
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 15.05 (13.05 GMT; 00.05 Melbourne time Sunday, March 17)
Referee: Egon Seconds (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Vos Willie (South Africa)