Timani returns for Brumbies battle
TEAM ANNOUNCEMNT: Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made five changes to the starting line-up which includes the return of Lopeti Timani for Saturday's match against the Brumbies at GIO Stadium in Canberra.
The other four changes see the return of Hugh Sinclair and Mitch Inman, while Ben Volavola and Reece Hodge have shifted positions in the backline.
Timani has passed the concussion protocols after the backrower missed last weekend’s game following a head knock at training while Sinclair will fill the shoes of injured Sean McMahon at flank. McMahon is expected to miss six to eight weeks after dislocating his wrist against the Crusaders.
For the third consecutive week, McGahan has named an unchanged front row with Toby Smith, one of five Rebels named in the Wallabies squad on Tuesday, hooker James Hanson and Tyrel Lomax retaining their spots.
Volavola has been named at flyhalf for his seventh start of the season which sees Hodge shifted to fullback and Inman recalled to inside centre.
"The Brumbies physicality and strong set piece has provided them the foundation for a consistent season and they deserve their place at the top of the Australian Conference going into the Test break," McGahan said.
"For us, this game presents an opportunity to knock off the conference leaders for a second time this season and show what this side is capable of without a year of off-field distractions and inconsistent selection,"
McGahan has made two changes to the reserves bench. Cruze Ah-Nau returns to the Rebels for the first time since Round four after returning from a knee injury via the local Shield premier competition while back row Will Miller has been recalled following the injury to McMahon.
The Rebels claimed their first victory of the year with a 19-17 win over the Brumbies when the two sides met earlier this season in Round eight at AAMI Park.
The Brumbies extended their lead atop of the Australian Conference ladder to 19 points over the second-placed Waratahs following victories over the Kings and Jaguares on their tour of South Africa and Argentina.
The Rebels secured their first ever victory in the national capital with a 13-8 win over the Brumbies during their last time to Canberra in Round 10, 2015.
Saturday’s game will be the Rebels final hitout before the month-long international break which will see Smith, Timani, Hodge, Sefa Nailvalu and Marika Koroibete (Wallabies), Volavola (Fiji) and Amanaki Mafi (Japan) report for national duty.
Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Hugh Sinclair, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Will Miller, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Jonah Placid.
Date: Saturday, June 3
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.45 (09.45 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)