Rebels unleash Koroibete on Hurricanes
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Melbourne Rebels have welcomed back experience for the second round of the 2017 Super Rugby season against the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made three changes to the team with Marika Koroibete set for his Super Rugby debut, along with the return of James Hanson and Mitch Inman to the starting line-up.
"There's no bigger challenge in Super Rugby right now than the defending champions in Wellington, but we've prepared well and the return of key players will provide some much-needed experience and firepower," McGahan
Koroibete will make his first appearance in Rebels colours on the wing after a knee injury sidelined the Rugby League convert for the team's pre-season trial matches, Brisbane Global Rugby Tens and opening round.
Wallaby Hanson returns to action after he missed the first game of the season against the Blues with a hip and leg injury, respectively, while Inman will partner Reece Hodge in the centres.
Nic Stirzaker will line up against the Hurricanes at scrumhalf after the captain overcome a head knock against the Blues which saw him substituted early in the first half.
"We learnt some good lessons in Round One that we've taken away so our attention has been on fixing up those key areas at training this week or else good sides will continue to punish our mistakes," McGahan said.
The Rebels went down in their opening game of the season 18-56 to the Blues while the Hurricanes scored 13 tries against the Sunwolves to claim an 83-17 victory in Tokyo.
This weekend's fixture will only be the third time that the Rebels have played against the Hurricanes in Wellington after Round 14, 2012 and Round Seven, 2015.
The Rebels claimed the victory in the first meeting between the two sides before the Hurricanes bounced back to win the last four consecutive matches to lead the head to head record four-one from five matches.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Tom English, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cruze Ah-Nau.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Tom Moloney, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23. Ben Volavola.
Date: Saturday, March 4
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 17.15 (15.15 AEDT, 04.15 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: William Houston (Australia), Cam Stone (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)