VIDEO: Rebels get Wallabies boost for Reds clash
After a back injury sidelined him from pre-season trials, the new recruit Genia was named at scrumhalf and will partner up with alongside experienced flyhalf Jack Debreczeni.
Victorian prop Tetera Faulkner will run out in front of family and friends for the first time in a Rebels jersey next to homegrown rake Jordan Uelese, who is set to make his run on debut at Super Rugby level.
Captain Adam Coleman and Matt Philip have been paired in an international second row while Wallaby and Japanese representatives Lopeti Timani and Amanaki Mafi, have been included in the back row with Angus Cottrell.
Experienced Rebels Reece Hodge and Tom English will partner in the centres while Wallaby flyer Sefa Naivalu and young gun Jack Maddocks will start on the wings. Experienced fullback Dane Haylett-Petty completes the starting back 3.
Lock Sam Jeffries has been named as a substitute for his first Super Rugby appearance since the Rebels final round clash of the 2016 Super Rugby season against the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium.
Hooker Anaru Rangi, Sam Talakai, Ross Haylett-Petty, Michael Ruru and Billy Meakes are expected to make their Rebels debuts off the bench, alongside local prop Fereti Sa’aga and rising star Semisi Tupou.
The Rebels and Reds will meet in the opening game of the season for the first time in the franchise's history.
Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Will Genia, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Adam Coleman (captain), 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Semisi Tupou, 23 Billy Meakes.
Date: Friday, February 23
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.40 (8.40 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nicholas Berry (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)