Waratahs v Rebels - Super Rugby match preview
Last Updated: 01/03/13 8:55am
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has made two changes to his starting XV to face the Rebels at Allianz Stadium on Friday.
Wallabies prop Benn Robinson returns to the front row in place of Jeremy Tilse, whilst Mitchell Chapman takes over from Sitaleki Timani in the second row.
Israel Folau was again named at full-back despite an indifferent performance in his Super Rugby debut against the Reds.
Berrick Barnes is still sidelined with a knee injury as the Waratahs aim to halt a losing streak of nine Super Rugby games dating back to April last year.
James O'Connor has been named as stand-in captain of the Rebels for their upcoming Super Rugby clash with the Waratahs, with Gareth Delve ruled out.
O'Connor will be the third player in history to lead the Rebels, with regular captain Delve sidelined due to a shoulder injury that has not recovered in time from last week's 30-13 loss the Brumbies.
"Nothing is structurally wrong with Gareth's shoulder. He took a beating last week and simply has not recovered in time for this weeks match," said coach Damien Hill.
Manly Marlin Jordy Reid will come onto the bench for his first Super Rugby match, with Wallaby tourists Cadeyrn Neville to start in the second-row, and Luke Jones moving to the blindside flank with Scott Higginbotham packing down in the familiar position of number eight.
Hill was disappointed for Delve, although happy that the franchise has the talent to fill the void left by the Welsh international.
"We have spoken about the club's depth this year compared to others, and for the Rebels to be able to replace Delve with Higginbotham, while bringing in Wallaby tourists to the starting team is a demonstration of that," said Hill.
Although the Rebels had some disappointing news on Delve, they were lifted with Kurtley Beale getting through training and showing no signs of his shoulder injury hampering him.
The Wallabies fly-half will start against his former side in an unchanged backline, with only one change to the bench seeing uncapped utility-back Angus Roberts replacing Alex Rokobaro.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Tom Kingston, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Dave Dennis (c), 6 Michael Hooper, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Mitchell Chapman, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Ben Volavola.
Rebels: 15 James O'Connor (c), 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Richard Kingi, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Jordy Reid, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Angus Roberts, 22 Tom English.