Ten changes for Rebels
Ten changes for RebelsSHARE
The Rebels have made 10 changes for this Friday's clash against the Australian Super Rugby Conference leaders, the Brumbies.
Following injuries to Scott Higginbotham, Hugh Pyle and Jarrod Saffy, Gareth Delve returns to the starting team as captain, while Luke Jones and Jordy Reid join Cadeyrn Neville and Scott Fuglistaller in the back five.
With their Wallaby preliminary squad selection, Nick Phipps and James O'Connor will both be unavailable for the Round 17 derby, and Nic Stirzaker and Bryce Hegarty are both promoted to the starting team.
Luke Burgess will return to Super Rugby from the bench, arriving from France on Monday.
The 37-Test scrumhalf spent time in Canberra as part of the Brumbies Squad in the 2003 and 2007 seasons, before joining the Waratahs and gaining Wallabies selection.
Shota Horie returns to Osaka for international duties, giving Pat Leafa his first opportunity to play Super Rugby.
The 2012 MacDougall Medallist for the most outstanding player in the Canberra club competition returns to the nation's capital, having previously played for the Tuggeranong Vikings.
The New Zealand-born hooker was looking forward to the challenge of Super Rugby in front of some familiar faces in Canberra.
"I am very honoured to be given the opportunity to represent this franchise, where I was selected from the Vikings last year," said Leafa.
"I really enjoyed playing in Canberra. They are very passionate Rugby people. I owe a lot to the Vikings for bringing me to Australia from New Zealand. I always wanted to make a Super Rugby squad, and they gave me the initial tools and skills to take the next step.
"I have enjoyed Melbourne, playing for Box Hill in the Dewar Shield Competition. The support for rugby at a local level is fantastic here in Victoria.
"All the coaches and players at the Rebels have been wonderful. I am very blessed to have their support and to be given this chance on Friday. It is a very important match for me, but more importantly for my teammates, coaches and the franchise."
In another first, lock/back row forward James King will make his Rebels debut from the bench.
The former Auckland player has had a difficult run of injuries in recent years, and has trained exceptionally well during the Rebels 2013 season, and has been a consistent performer in the local Dewar Shield Competition.
King will also join Melbourne Rebels franchise captain and 39 Super Cap veteran Tim Davidson on the bench in his first appearance in Rebels colours this season. With injuries to key leaders Jarrod Saffy and Scott Higginbotham, Tim will provide a wealth of leadership and versatility, covering all positions in the back row.
Rebels coach Damien Hill returns to Canberra excited about the challenge ahead.
"The team has come a long way over the last eight games, and with 10 changes this week we are looking forward to testing our squad depth against a strong Brumbies outfit."
Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom English, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Lachlan Mitchell, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 James King, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 James Hilgendorf, 22 Kimami Sitauti.
Date: Friday, June 7
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.40 (09.40 GMT)
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Matt O'Brien (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)