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Rebels make two changes for crucial Blues clash

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Melbourne Rebels Super rugby head coach Dave Wessels has named a team with two changes for this Saturday’s match against the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday

Prop Jermaine Ainsley and back-rower, Ross Haylett-Petty will make their Super Rugby returns in Auckland.

Ainsley returns after missing the Rebels’ win over the Sunwolves while experienced tighthead Sam Talakai shifts to the reserves.

Haylett-Petty returns for his first match at Super Rugby level since suffering concussion during the match against the Bulls in Pretoria and will start on the bench.

Winger Sefa Naivalu – who was last night included in the Wallabies squad for the Mitsubishi Estate Ireland Series – and last week’s debutant, Pone Fa’amausili have both been omitted from this week’s team.

Melbourne Rebels Head Coach, Dave Wessels said: “We’ve worked hard over the last couple of weeks on our ability to finish games strongly – this is due in large part to the work our conditioning staff have put into the team as well as the impressive impact our bench has made in recent weeks.

“They’ve come on and really wanted to rattle the cage. Guys like ‘LT’ (Lopeti Timani) and ‘Syd’ (Geoff Parling) have been particularly impressive in this regard.

“It’s great to have Ross (Haylett-Petty) coming back in. He trained really well this week and effectively forced us to pick him.

“He gives us flexibility in the back five and is obviously fit and powerful. We look forward to seeing his impact.”

The Melbourne Rebels are also delighted with the selection of eight players into the Qantas Wallabies squad for the Mitsubishi Estate Ireland Series – the most ever for a Rebels side.

“We’re obviously very proud of the players that have been picked to represent Australia – and a number of others that came very close,” Wessels said.

“We had constructive discussion with the Wallabies coaches and decided in the best interests of Australian rugby that it was better to give Willy (Genia) another week off to ensure he’s 100% ready for the June Tests.

“But the decision was obviously made easier by the fact that Michael Ruru has been in such good form lately. We’re looking forward to the challenge this weekend.”

Melbourne Rebels

1. Fereti Sa’aga, 2. Anaru Rangi, 3. Jermaine Ainsley, 4. Matt Philip, 5. Adam Coleman (capt.), 6. Angus Cottrell, 7. Colby Fainga’a, 8. Amanaki Mafi, 9. Michael Ruru, 10. Reece Hodge, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Billy Meakes, 13. Tom English, 14. Jack Maddocks, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty

Replacements : 16. Jordan Uelese, 17. Ben Daley, 18. Sam Talakai, 19. Geoff Parling, 20. Ross Haylett-Petty, 21. Harrison Goddard, 22. Tayler Adams, 23. Lopeti Timani

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