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Rebels make three changes for Brumbies

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Melbourne’s Rebels have named a Super Rugby team with three changes to their starting line up to face the Brumbies at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Saturday.

 The match is the Rebels second Australian derby of the season and is against the current Australia Conference leaders.

Rebels head coach Tony McGahan welcomes back Sefa Naivalu from injury while the forwards have been bolstered with international experience with the return of Lopeti Timani to the starting line-up and Dom Day named for his starting debut.

Naivalu passed a fitness test for his injured shoulder, which sidelined the winger for the Highlanders game before to the bye, and will team up with compatriot Marika Koroibete on the wings for just the second time this season.

Timani will make his first start for the Rebels since the Round 2 after a calf injury saw the Wallaby miss the club’s home games against the Chiefs and Waratahs before a return to action off the bench against the Highlanders.

Welsh international Day will make his Super Rugby debut alongside Timani in the locks after his first two appearances have come off the bench against the Waratah and Highlanders.

McGahan has reshuffled the team’s backline with Nic Stirzaker and Jack Debreczeni to resume their partnership in the halves for the first time season while utility Reece Hodge will fill the vacancy at fullback, Tom English returns to the centres with Mitch Inman.

“It’s always great to welcome back experience to the starting line-up but it’s particularly welcome ahead of an important Australian derby against the Brumbies,” McGahan said.

“The bye week was a timely opportunity to reset so we’ve comeback from the break and got a lot of really good work done to address some particular facets to our game and give us the best chance against a quality opposition.”

The Rebels have named uncapped Hugh Sinclair on the reserves bench after the backrower put his Shute Shield campaign on hold to joined the club earlier this week as a short-term recruit to help cover an injury depleted squad.

Sinclair, vice-captain of Northern Suburbs, was named man of the match in last year’s 28-15 grand final victory over Sydney Uni after the backrower played a key role in the game-winning try.

After four New Zealand opponents in the first five games of the year, the Rebels return from last week’s bye to contest their second local derby of the year.

Laurie Weeks, the only remaining foundation player with the Rebels, will celebrate his 100th Super Rugby appearance on Saturday night after 23 games with the Queensland Reds before he moved south as the club’s first ever signing in 2011.

Melbourne Rebels

1. Fereti Sa’aga ,2. James Hanson ,3. Laurie Weeks ,4. Steve Cummins ,5. Dominic Day ,6. Lopeti Timani ,7. Colby Fainga’a ,8. Amanaki Mafi ,9. Nic Stirzaker (Captain) ,10. Jack Debreczeni ,11. Marika Koroibete ,12. Mitch Inman ,13. Tom English ,14. Sefa Naivalu ,15. Reece Hodge ,

Replacements : 16. Siliva Siliva , 17. Tom Moloney ,18. Tyrel Lomax ,19. Culum Retallick ,20. Hugh Sinclair^* ,21. Mick Snowden ,22. Jackson Garden-Bachop ,23. Ben Volavola ,

^Super Rugby debut
*Rebels debut

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