Rebels change seven for Sharks
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Rebels have made seven changes to the starting line-up for Friday's game against the Sharks at AAMI Park.
Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Dave Wessels has named lock Geoff Parling, flank Colby Fainga’a and centre Billy Meakes for their first starts of the 2018 Super Rugby season for his side’s return to The Stockade.
Dane Haylett-Petty and Ben Daley were unavailable for selection after the pair failed to meet the minimum return to play concussion protocols due to the short five-day turnaround following the loss in Sydney on Sunday.
The injuries have forced a shuffle to the backline with the Fijian flyers Sefa Naivalu and Marika Koroibete to occupy the wings in tandem for the first time this season while Jack Maddocks has been shifted to fullback.
Meakes will start at inside-centre, alongside Reece Hodge, after he impressed in his early introduction off the bench on Sunday after Haylett-Petty suffered a head knock in the opening 15 minutes against the Waratahs.
Parling will make his first start in his second appearance for the Rebels after a concussion in his Super Rugby debut in the victory over the Sunwolves sidelined the former England international lock since Week 3.
After he missed Sunday’s game against the Waratahs with illness, Angus Cottrell will return to the starting line-up along with Fainga’a.
A hamstring injury to Jordan Uelese will again sideline the young hooker with Anaru Rangi to start and Mahe Vailanu, who made his Super Rugby debut last week, get his second opportunity off the bench on Friday.
Daley’s unavailability sees young prop Fereti Sa’aga promoted to the matchday-23 for his third appearance off the bench this season.
The Rebels are looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season when they host the Sharks at AAMI Park for the first time since 2014.
The last time these two sides faced-off, the Rebels and Sharks played out a 9-9 draw at Kings Park in Durban in Round 9, 2017.
Rebels: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Will Genia, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman (captain), 4 Geoff Parling, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Mahe Vailanu, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Richard Hardwick, 22 Michael Ruru, 22 Tom English.
Date: Friday, March 23
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.45 (08.45 GMT, 10.45 South Africa Time)
Referee: Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
Assistant referees: Nicholas Berry (Australia), Damon Murphy (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)