O'Connor set to spark Rebels
O'Connor set to spark RebelsSHARE
Rebels captain James O'Connor will start at flyhalf in place of the injured Kurtley Beale in their match against the Reds in Melbourne on Friday.
O'Connor will lead the side, with Gareth Delve still being sidelined due to a shoulder complaint, and will also perform the playmaker role in the absence of Beale.
Beale has been ruled out for three to four weeks after fracturing the third metacarpal in his left hand.
The break occurred during last week's 31-26 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney, and the flyhalf is set to undergo surgery.
Beale is 'gutted', but says his focus now shifts to recovery.
"Obviously I've got some time off now, try and focus on the shoulder and get that back to full strength. Hopefully when I do come back I'll hit the ground fit and ready," he said.
Rebels coach Damien Hill has called uncapped utility Angus Roberts into the run-on team to take O'Connor's place at fullback, whilst he first South Australian born Super Rugby player, Alex Rokobaro, returns to the team in the in the starting line up, with Rory Sidey moving onto the reserves bench.
Hill has kept the same forward reserves with both Jarrod Saffy and Jordy Ried expected to feature in the match.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Angus Roberts, 14 Richard Kingi, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Lachlan Mitchell, 11 Alex Rokobaro, 10 James O'Connor (captain), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Jordy Reid, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Rory Sidey, 22 Tom English.
Date: Friday, March 8
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.40 (08.40 GMT)
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)