The Rebels have named a Super rugby team with one change for their match on Saturday against the Sunwolves at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Jermaine Ainsley has been selected at tighthead prop, replacing Vice Captain Sam Talakai, who has been rested for the match.
Four changes have been made in the replacements, with Pone Fa’amausili, Semisi Tupou and Ross Haylett-Petty all in line to gain minutes, while new recruit Hugh Roach could potentially make his Club debut after 41 appearances with the Waratahs.
Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Dave Wessels says the addition of Wallaby-Capped Ainsley to the starting side is well deserved after the prop’s hard work during the season.
“I think Jermaine has really deserved his chance,” Wessels said.
“He was actually going to start in one of the previous games but got some gastro and was ruled out of the game.”
Wessels’ excitement towards Ainsley’s promotion to the stating XV was also prevalent when speaking about Victorian product Pone Fa’amausili and his return to the replacements.
The Head Coach believes Fa’amausili has the ability to provide real competition for the tight head role spot, with Wessels saying the 22-year-old has the potential to be a big part of the Club’s forward pack in the future.
“We’ve got some real competition for that position now, with guys like Pone Fa’amausili, who played earlier in the season,” Wessels said.
“He’s only a young guy, but he’s going to be a big part of our club going forward, so I’m looking forward to seeing his performance off the bench as well.
With Melbourne sitting top of the Australian Conference heading into Saturday night’s fixture against the Sunwolves, Wessels is adamant the Japanese side are better than what their 2-5 ledger suggests.
With that belief in mind, Wessels says he the Club has put their best possible side forward in a game which could help Melbourne further solidify their standing in the Australian Conference.
“The Sunwolves are a very good side,” Wessels said.
“They’re obviously well coached and look at the quality in their back row.
“It’s a huge challenge for us, so we’ve put, what we’ve considered to be our best team at the present time on the field.”
15 Reece Hodge, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Angus Cottrell (captain), 6 Luke Jones, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Semisi Tupou