Hodge takes centre stage at Loftus Versfeld
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: A return from injury for centre Reece Hodge, headlines three changes to the starting XV for the Melbourne Rebels ahead of their clash against the Bulls in Pretoria this Saturday.
Hodge joins lock Matt Philip, loose forward Angus Cottrell and half back Michael Ruru as the inclusions in the starting line-up. Ruru will make his first-ever Rebels start, after Will Genia suffered a hamstring injury in the loss to Jaguares in the last round.
Billy Meakes and Geoff Parling will start on the bench, making way for Hodge and Phillip respectively. Ruru's elevation to the starting line-up means a potential season debut for young scrumhalf, Harrison Goddard.
Cottrell returns to the starting line-up since re-committing to the Melbourne Rebels, while Richard Hardwick shook off any concussion concerns from the Jaguares match and will start on the bench. Fereti Sa'aga also returns for his first match after missing matches against the Hurricanes and Jaguares, replacing the injured Ben Daley (shoulder).
Flyhalf Jack Debreczeni will celebrate a special personal milestone, reaching 50 Melbourne Rebels and Super Rugby caps this Saturday.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman (captain), 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Billy Meakes, 23 Sefa Naivalu.
Date: Saturday, April 21
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 15.05 (23.05 AEST; 13.05 GMT)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, AJ Jacobs
TMO: Willie Vos