Winless Rebels change it up for Highlanders
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Melbourne Rebels have welcomed back Lachie Anderson to its starting XV for Sunday’s clash against the Highlanders in Sydney.
Anderson’s inclusion is one of five changes to last week’s Melbourne Rebels’ side which gallantly battled the Hurricanes in a gruelling eighty-minute encounter in Wellington.
Fresh off running through his third try of the year – a career-high – Rebels’ Vice Captain, Michael Wells, continues to underline his impressive versatility, shifting once again to number 7, replacing Josh Kemeny, who’s unavailable through injury.
After thriving in the second row all year, Northern Panthers’ sensation, Rob Leota, returns to his preferred No.6 spot, joining the imposing Isi Naisarani in a Rebels’ back row boasting 165 games worth of Super Rugby experience.
Meanwhile, bustling lock, Ross Haylett-Petty, has been promoted to pair with Trevor Hosea, while veteran Steve Cummins, looks destined to play his first game of the Trans-Tasman tournament, after being named as a replacement.
Carter Gordon’s strong start to his Super Rugby career looks set to continue, with the exciting flyhalf selected for his second consecutive career start following an impressive New Zealand debut last week.
Against world-class opposition, the twenty-year-old laid seven tackles, threw 23 passes with six runs, while also repeatedly showcasing his elite kick out of hand ability.
Joining Gordon for their second Rebels’ start will be Englishman, George Worth, who has been named at fullback after registering 35 metres from 7 runs, during his first start against the Hurricanes.
Andrew Kellaway, Stacey Ili and Frank Lomani, will provide plenty of late-game pace and flair to the Rebels’ backline, while Richard Hardwick has been selected as his side’s back row cover for the second week in a row. James Hanson, Matt Gibbon and Lucio Sordoni will again serve as the Rebels’ front row replacements.
Melbourne Rebels’ Assistant Coach, Geoff Parling, said: “Unfortunately for Josh, he’s unavailable this week following a lower leg injury, but thankfully it’s not major, so that’s positive.
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“What it does do is allow Rob Leota to go back to his more traditional role at six. Rob’s performed in the second row this season and has shown great versatility, so we have no doubt he’ll be able to carry this into Sunday’s game.
“Michael Wells moves to 7, while the experienced and big-bodied, Ross Haylett-Petty, comes in at lock,” said Parling.
Due to the recently extended travel ban between New Zealand and Australia, this weekend’s contest between the Rebels and the Highlanders has been moved from Queenstown to Sydney’s picturesque Leichhardt Oval.
Rebels: 15 George Worth, 14 Lachie Anderson, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Wells, 6 Robert Leota, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Steven Cummins, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Frank Lomani, 22 Stacey Ili, 23 Andrew Kellaway.
Date: Sunday, May 30
Venue: Leichardt Oval, Sydney
Kick-Off: 15.00 (17.00 NZ time, 05.00 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill & James Doleman
TMO: Mike Fraser