Neville the Rebel returns
Neville the Rebel returnsSHARE
Rebels coach Tony McGahan made just one change to the side for their all-Australian Super Rugby derby against the Western Force on Friday.
In a show of faith in his matchday 23 that lost to the Chiefs last week the only change sees second row forward Cadeyrn Neville replace Hugh Pyle in the starting line-up, with the Foundation Rebel dropping to the bench.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for Cadeyrn this week," McGahan said.
"He's been working hard behind the scenes the last few weeks and off the bench, and deserves the opportunity to play.
"Hugh's been fantastic for us, but he's had a big workload and is carrying a few niggles so it will be great for him to get a little rest and come off the bench this week.
"It was always our intention to give guys a bit of time during the early rounds, and find out what everybody is capable of, and we've done that. Now we are at a stage where we can confidently settle on who we are comfortable with.
"It's been a long eight-game block with a break next week, and it's given us a great opportunity to get a little continuity in the side; we're really keen to finish off this stretch of games in a confident manner."
Scott Fuglistaller copped a knock to the shoulder against the Chiefs last week, however the back row forward has passed all the required tests and holds on to his starting jersey.
"Scott's fine; he's tough as boots," McGahan said.
"He loves the contest, loves playing Rugby, and loves playing here for the Rebels. It would have to be a pretty serious injury to keep him from playing, and we're delighted to see him continue to lead from the front and take his place."
Japanese Internationals Male Sau and Shota Horie remain in the starting lineup for the third week in a row, despite joining the Club late heading into the season.
"We've been pleased with what they have brought to the side; they've both fitted in really well and adapted to the program," McGahan said.
"They've both taken their opportunity to perform when on the pitch and we're delighted with what they are offering; their contributions are again well valued."
"Our bench has been terrific for the last four weeks and played an important role in the consistency of our performances. Again, we are really expecting our bench to be able to come on and finish the game when we need them to."
Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Male Sau, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emilie, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Tom Kingston, 23 Angus Roberts.
Date: Friday, April 18
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.40 (09.40 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Angus Gardner (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)