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Parling and Meakes start for Rebels against Sharks

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Rebels Super Rugby head coach Dave Wessels has named a team with seven changes to the starting line-up for Friday’s Super Rugby match against the Sharks at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

Wessels has lock Geoff Parling, flanker Colby Fainga’a and centre Billy Meakes for their first starts of the 2018 Super Rugby season for his side’s return to The Stockade on Friday.

Dane Haylett-Petty and Ben Daley were unavailable for selection after the pair failed to meet the minimum return to play concussion protocols due to the short five-day turnaround following the loss in Sydney on Sunday.

The injuries have forced a shuffle to the backline with the Fijian flyers Sefa Naivalu and Marika Koroibete to occupy the wings in tandem for the first time this season while Jack Maddocks has been shifted to fullback.

Meakes will start at inside centre, alongside Reece Hodge, after he impressed in his early introduction off the bench on Sunday after Haylett-Petty suffered a headknock in the opening 15 minutes against the Waratahs.

Parling will make his first start in his second appearance for the Rebels after a concussion in his Super Rugby debut in the victory over the Sunwolves sidelined the former England international lock since Week 3.

After he missed Sunday’s game against the Waratahs with illness, Angus Cottrell will return to the starting line-up along with Fainga’a.

A hamstring injury to Jordan Uelese will again sideline the young hooker with Anaru Rangi to start and Mahe Vailanu, who made his Super Rugby debut last week, get his second opportunity off the bench on Friday.

Daley’s unavailability sees young prop Fereti Sa’aga promoted to the matchday-23 for his third appearance off the bench this season.

The Rebels are looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season when they host the Sharks at AAMI Park for the first time since 2014.

The last time these two sides faced-off, the Rebels and Sharks played out a 9-9 draw at Kings Park in Durban in Round 9, 2017.

Hodge needs just three points to surpass Jason Woodward as the club’s most prolific points scorer. Hodge scored seven points last weekend against the Waratahs to jump James O’Connor into second place with 208 points.

English’s try against the Waratahs saw him equal Hodge and former Rebels captain Scott Higginbotham as the club’s leading try scorer with 15. Another try for English or Hodge will see them set a new club record.

On his team selection Head Coach Dave Wessels said, “The Sharks are a big and strong physical pack so we’ve added freshness and experience to our starting line-up with Geoff (Parling), Colby (Fainga’a) and Gus (Cottrell). Sefa (Naivalu) and Marika (Koroibete) give us some genuine speed out wide. We were pleased with Billy’s work rate and intensity off the bench last week as an early substitute for Dane so he’s earned the opportunity to start,” Wessels said.

On the short five-day turnaround to play the Sharks: , , “We’ve played some really good rugby this year and I think we’re happy with where the team is at. Our job is to go out there and focus on our equivalent of running a 9.9 sec 100m race. If a team comes along and runs a 9.8 sec then they deserve to win. But our focus is on producing our best performance consistently. We didn’t do that on Sunday, but Friday gives us the opportunity to put that right,” Wessels said.

Melbourne Rebels

1. Tetera Faulkner , 2. Anaru Rangi , 3. Jermaine Ainsley , 4. Geoff Parling , 5. Adam Coleman (c) , 6. Angus Cottrell , 7. Colby Fainga’a , 8. Amanaki Mafi , 9. Will Genia , 10. Jack Debreczeni , 11. Marika Koroibete , 12. Billy Meakes , 13. Reece Hodge , 14. Sefa Naivalu , 15. Jack Maddocks

Replacements ; 16. Mahe Vailanu , 17. Fereti Sa’aga , 18. Sam Talakai , 19. Matt Philip , 20. Ross Haylett-Petty , 21. Richard Hardwick , 22. Michael Ruru , 23. Tom English

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