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Rebels name trial squad for Waratahs warm up

James O'Connor is one of four Rebels captains this weekend

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Article Published: Wednesday 30 January 2013|

The Rebels have named a squad with four captains and 11 debutants for their first Super Rugby trial match against the NSW Waratahs in Tasmania this Saturday.

James O'Connor, Nic Stirzaker, Gareth Delve and Nic Henderson will all share the role of Captain, while uncapped players Rory Sidey and Scott Fuglistaller will play their first match for the Rebels in the run on side.

This will be the first time Super Rugby will hit the shores of Hobart, with Rebels Head Coach, Damien Hill, seeing this as an important exercise in developing combinations for the 2013 season, as well as bringing first class Rugby to the state of Tasmania.

Hill has selected his starting side to start the match on February 2, featuring five international players including Cooper Vuna and James O'Connor, along with Wallaby Spring tourists Mitch Inman and Caderyn Neville.

Although at near full strength, Hill received some frustrating news yesterday, with a late injury to promising New Zealand born outside back Jason Woodward ruling him out of the game.

"Having a game in Tasmania is recognition of the passion for Rugby Union in this state, and the team we have selected is a reflection of that. It is also an important exercise to ensure there is a direct professional pathway for young Tasmanian Rugby players to play Super Rugby for the Rebels," said Hill.

"Jason sustained an unfortunate finger injury yesterday at training which requires immediate surgery. We are expecting him to be out for six weeks and make a full recovery, which will see him come back into consideration for Round Four of the Super Rugby competition.

"32 of the 35 players are available at this stage and will be participating in the trial. Kimami Sitauti unfortunately had a pretty serious ankle injury late last year and will miss most of 2013 season. Scott Higginbotham won't take part in the trial, but we are hopeful he will be available for Round One against the Western Force.

Travelling with the squad to Tasmania, Kurtley Beale is named to start the match at fullback, although the High Performance staff will assess his training volume, with a decision to be made at a later stage.

"He is desperate to play, and is excited about the opportunity to play with our young backline, but we will make that call on Friday," said Hill.

Co-Captain for the trial, James O'Connor, will start the match at 10, a timely return for the 22 year old, who chose to stay with the Melbourne Rebels during the Wallaby Spring Tour to ensure he was right to play in 2013.

"This is definitely a huge match for me personally. Having an off-season under my belt with this group of players has been unbelievable," said the Rebels pivot.

"The reason I decided not to tour for the Wallabies is that I wasn't 100%. The decision was always geared for me to play this match in Tasmania and I could not be happier with where I am at physically at the moment.

"The most important thing I have accomplished isn't my physical preparation, but I've been able to be part of the team dynamic. From the combinations in the backline, to being able to know how the forwards run their lines, these are the things I take away from this pre-season campaign.

"I know every club says the same thing; the culture is great, and we have trained well. But the difference this time, is I have been a part of building it.

"I am so proud of the effort and the work the players and the Club have done to date, and North Hobart is going to be the kick-off of it all.

"I am stoked that Hilly has given me first crack at 10, and also love the look of our side. It is balanced and the best we could pick, apart from injury."

It's an exciting proposition for O'Connor who will most certainly see time at fullback in the second half, locking horns with former AFL and Greater Western Sydney player, Israel Folau.

"If someone had told me I would be playing Rugby Union in Hobart against Israel Folau, I would have told them they were dreaming," said O'Connor.

"It's an exciting time for Rugby Union in this country and I am sure Israel will be looking forward to being a part it."

The Rebels take on the Waratahs at North Hobart Oval on February 2 at 5:30pm, with gates opening from 1pm.

Rebels teams

First half

1.Eddie Aholelei , 2. Ged Robinson , 3. Laurie Weeks , 4. Hugh Pyle , 5. Luke Jones , 6.Tim Davidson , 7. Scott Fuglistaller , 8. Gareth Delve (C) , 9. Nick Phipps , 10. James O'Connor (C) , 11. Cooper Vuna , 12. Rory Sidey , 13. Mitch Inman , 14. Lachlan Mitchell , 15. Kurtley Beale/Alex Rokobaro

Second Half

1. Nic Henderson (C) , 2. Pat Leafa/Shota Horie , 3. Paul Alo-Emile , 4. Chris Thomson , 5. James King , 6. Cadeyrn Neville , 7. Jarrod Saffy , 8. Trent Dyer , 9. Nic Stirzaker (C) , 10. Angus Roberts , 11. Cooper Vuna , 12. Lachlan Mitchell , 13. Tom English , 14. Alex Rokobaro , 15. Bryce Hegarty

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