Super Rugby

Hodge one of three Rebels changes for Bulls

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Rebels Super rugby head coach Dave Wessels has named a team with three changes to the starting line up to face the Bills at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

Centre Reece Hodge returns from injury and joins lock Matt Philip, back-rower 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 half back, 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).

Fly half Jack Debreczeni will celebrate a special personal milestone, reaching 50 Melbourne Rebels and Super Rugby caps this Saturday.

Rebels Head Coach, Dave Wessels, said playing in South Africa was exciting challenge for the squad.

“The Rebels have never won in South Africa, but to change that we’re going to have to play well against a very good Bulls team,” Wessels said.

“It’s exciting for guys like Michael (Ruru) and Harrison (Goddard); they have a great opportunity to impose themselves on the Super Rugby competition.

“The Bulls have played very well in the last few weeks and they’re obviously well-coached. We know that we’re going to have to be at our best.”

Melbourne Rebels

Tetera Faulkner , Anaru Rangi , Sam Talakai , Matt Philip, Adam Coleman (capt), Ross Haylett-Petty , Angus Cottrell, Amanaki Mafi, Michael Ruru, Jack Debreczeni, Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge , Tom English , Jack Maddocks, Dane Haylett-Petty

Replacements : Jordan Uelese, Fereti Sa’aga, Jermaine Ainsley, Geoff Parling, Richard Hardwick, Harrison Goddard, Billy Meakes, Sefa Naivalu

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