Rebels change it up for Chiefs
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Rebels coach Tony McGahan made four changes to his team for the fourth round Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs in Melbourne on Friday.
Home-grown prop Fereti Sa'aga has been handed his Super Rugby run-on debut, Culum Retallick has been promoted to lock and the return of Sefa Naivalu and Laurie Weeks from injury are the other features.
Naivalu, who was sidelined for the first two games of the season with a leg infection, will partner childhood friend Marika Koroibete on the Rebels wings for the first time - while Weeks returns from a bruised leg.
The 22-year-old Sa'aga will make his first start after he impressed in his Super Rugby debut against the Hurricanes, when he came off the bench for the final 10 minutes in Wellington.
Injury to Lopeti Timani (knee) will see Retallick make his first start of the 2017 season and Tom English shifted back to the midfield after a head knock to Mitch Inman.
Harlequin's Murray Douglas is set to make his Super Rugby debut after McGahan named the uncapped the lock on the reserves bench, alongside hooker Pat Leafa who is set to make his 50th Super Rugby appearance for the Rebels.
The last time the two sides met in Melbourne, the Rebels claimed their only victory over the Chiefs in five previous fixtures with a thrilling one-point victory in 2015.
The Rebels will play a New Zealand franchise for the third consecutive week.
It's just the second time in the franchise's history that the Rebels have played three Tasman rivals in as many weeks since they played the Crusaders, Chiefs and Blues in Rounds 11 to 13 in 2013.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Fereti Sa'aga.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Murray Douglas, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23 Ben Volavola.
Date: Friday, March 17
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.45 AEDT (21.45 NZDT; 08.45 GMT)
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)