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Timani one of five Rebels changes for Brumbies

Lopeti Timani of the Rebels runs with the ball

Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby head coach Tony McGahan has named a team with five changes to the starting line-up for Saturday’s match against the Brumbies in Canberra.

McGahan has brought back Lopeti Timani from a head knock for Saturday’s match at GIO Stadium.

As well as Timani, Hugh Sinclair and Mitch Inman return , while Ben Volavola and Reece Hodge have shifted positions in the backline.

Timani has passed the concussion protocols after the backrower missed last weekend’s game following a head knock at training while Sinclair will fill the shoes of injured Sean McMahon at flanker. McMahon is expected to miss six to eight weeks after dislocating his wrist against the Crusaders.

For the third consecutive week, McGahan has named an unchanged frontrow with Toby Smith, one of five Rebels named in the Wallabies squad on Tuesday, hooker James Hanson and Tyrel Lomax retaining their spots.

Volavola has been named at fly-half for his seventh start of the season which sees Hodge shifted to fullback and Inman recalled to inside centre.

“The Brumbies physicality and strong set piece has provided them the foundation for a consistent season and they deserve their place at the top of the Australian Conference going into the Test break,” McGahan said.

“For us, this game presents an opportunity to knock off the conference leaders for a second time this season and show what this side is capable of without a year of off-field distractions and inconsistent selection.”

McGahan has made two changes to the reserves bench. Cruze Ah-Nau returns to the Rebels for the first time since Round 4 after returning from a knee injury via the local Dewar Shield premier competition while backrower Will Miller has been recalled following the injury to McMahon.

The Rebels claimed their first victory of the year with a 19-17 win over the Brumbies when the two sides met earlier this season in Round 8 at AAMI Park.

The Brumbies extended their lead atop of the Australian Conference ladder to 19 points over the second-placed Waratahs following victories over the Kings and Jaguares on their tour of South Africa and Argentina.

The Rebels secured their first ever victory in the national capital with a 13-8 win over the Brumbies during their last time to Canberra in Round 10, 2015.

Saturday’s game will be the Rebels final hitout before the month-long international break which will see Smith, Timani, Hodge, Sefa Nailvalu and Marika Koroibete (Wallabies), Volavola (Fiji) and Amanaki Mafi (Japan) report for national duty.

Melbourne Rebels

1. Toby Smith , 2. James Hanson , 3. Tyrel Lomax , 4. Steve Cummins , 5. Lopeti Timani , 6. Hugh Sinclair , 7. Colby Fainga’a , 8. Amanaki Mafi , 9. Nic Stirzaker (Captain) , 10. Ben Volavola , 11. Marika Koroibete , 12. Mitch Inman , 13. Tom English , 14. Sefa Naivalu , 15. Reece Hodge?

Replacements : 16. Siliva Siliva , 17. Cruze Ah-Nau , 18. Laurie Weeks , 19. Culum Retallick , 20. Will Miller , 21. Ben Meehan , 22. Jackson Garden-Bachop , 23. Jonah Placid