Super Rugby

Stirzaker to lead Rebels against Waratahs

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The Rebels have named their team to play the Waratahs at Allianz Stadium, Sydney, on Sunday with Nic Stirzaker as team captain.

25-year-old Stirzaker was appointed the Rebels captaincy for the 2016 season but due to a shoulder reconstruction he has started the last two matches off the bench.

The captain’s inclusion is one of three changes for the Rebels side that lost in Melbourne to the Highlanders last week.

In the other changes Reece Hodge starts at fullback while Cam Crawford replaces the injured Tom English on the wing.

Hodge will start for just the second time in his career after a quad injury sidelined the 21-year-old since his two-try and 20-point debut against the Western Force in the opening round.

Crawford will make his first start of the season on Sunday after successfully returning from a hamstring injury in the second-half against the Highlanders last weekend.

“It will be great to have Nic’s leadership and experience from the start in this Australian derby against the Waratahs, while Reece will inject his speed and enthusiasm, and a boot to match, at fullback,” Rebels Head Coach Tony McGahan said.

Rebels back Sefa Naivalu, named on the reserves bench, returns from a broken leg he suffered against the Sharks in Round 16 last year.

Despite the 27-3 loss to the defending champion Highlanders last weekend at AAMI Park, the Rebels are three points clear of the Waratahs in second place on the Australian Conference ladder.

The Waratahs are coming into their second consecutive Australian derby after their come from behind 15-13 victory over the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, on Sunday.

“Some of our game got exposed against the Highlanders but we come away having learnt some valuable lessons so we’ve picked ourselves up, rolled up the sleeves at training this week and continued to get better, McGahan said.

“There’s no doubting the Waratahs’ credentials, they possess a quality team that won them a Super Rugby title two years ago so we’re expecting nothing less than a hotly contested Australian derby on Sunday.”

Rebels

1. Toby Smith , 2. James Hanson , 3. Laurie Weeks , 4. Luke Jones , 5. Lopeti Timani , 6. Jordy Reid , 7. Sean McMahon , 8. Adam Thomson , 9. Nic Stirzaker (captain) , 10. Jack Debreczeni , 11. Cam Crawford , 12. Mitch Inman , 13. Tamati Ellison , 14. Dom Shipperley , 15. Reece Hodge

Replacements : 16. Pat Leafa , 17. Cruze Ah Nau , 18. Jamie Hagan , 19. Sam Jeffries , 20. Scott Fuglistaller , 21. Ben Meehan , 22. Dan Hawkins , 23. Sera Naivalu

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