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Rebels make four changes for Reds season ender

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Melbourne Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has named a Super Rugby team with four changes for this weekend’s season ending match against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday.

McGahan has been able to bring lock Luke Jones back into the team as he has recovered from a concussion and will play his final game for the Melbourne Super Rugby club.

As well as Jones, Sean McMahon and Mitch Inman all return from injury, while Paul Asquith will make his run-on Super Rugby debut after two weeks as a reserve.

The Rebels welcome back a wealth of experience with the returning trio combining for 202 games of Super Rugby as the team looks to equal the club’s record of seven victories in a season.

Jones, who missed last weekend’s trip to Christchurch after he suffered a concussion against the Stormers, will make his 72nd and last Super Rugby appearance for the club before the foundation player’s departure to France at the end of the season.

“We’ve got a few players back with Luke (Jones), Mitch (Inman) and Sean (McMahon) so to have three experienced campaigners back in the mix is fantastic,” McGahan said.

The Rebels will be without Lopeti Timani for a second-week after the lock failed to overcome his concussion while fullback Mike Harris will miss his last game for the club with a hamstring injury.

Culum Retallick, who scored his first try for the club in his Rebels run-on debut last weekend against the Crusaders, has retained his position in the starting 15.

McGahan has made a surprise selection with Australian U20’s rising star Jack Maddocks set to make his Super Rugby debut after being included on the reserves bench for the first time in his career.

The club recently announced the 19-year-old, who was the only player to play every minute of Australia’s 2016 World Rugby U20’s Championship campaign, as a signing for the next two seasons but injuries have forced an early selection.

“Jack’s impressed us at training last week and really impressed with the Australian U20’s in Manchester, he’s a good physical player and gets an opportunity this weekend,” McGahan said of Maddocks, who joined the Rebels for training last week to help cover for injuries.

“He gets this opportunity because we think he can play, we certainly wouldn’t put him out there if there was any doubts about whether he can handle Super Rugby. We have faith in him that he can deliver.”

Sione Tuipulotu and Rob Leota, who made his debut against the Crusaders, have been named alongside their Australian U20’s team mate on the bench a week after the pair made history with Victorians included in the 23-player team for the first time in the club’s history.

Melbourne Rebels

1. Toby Smith , 2. James Hanson , 3. Laurie Weeks , 4. Luke Jones , 5. Culum Retallick , 6. Sean McMahon , 7. Jordy Reid , 8. Colby Fainga’a , 9. Nic Stirzaker (captain) , 10. Jack Debreczeni , 11. Tom English , 12. Reece Hodge , 13. Mitch Inman , 14. Sefa Naivalu , 15. Paul Asquith

Reserves , 16. Pat Leafa , 17. Cruze Ah Nau , 18. Jamie Hagan , 19. Sam Jeffries , 20. Rob Leota , 21. Ben Meehan , 22. Sione Tuipulotu , 23. Jack Maddocks*

*Uncapped

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