Super Rugby: Rebels v Hurricanes match preview
Last Updated: 08/05/14 10:07am
The Rebels take on the Hurricanes at Melbourne's AAMI Park on Friday in what will be just the third encounter between the two sides.
Since the Rebels joined the expanded Super Rugby competition, both have won a match each - the Rebels toppling the Hurricanes 42-25 in Melbourne in 2011, and the Hurricanes winning 66-24 at Westpac Stadium in 2012. The two teams did not meet in 2013.
The Rebels go into this game on the back of a 16-22 home defeat to the Sharks, while the Hurricanes went down 29-28 to the Stormers.
In team news, Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made one change to his starting XV as Pat Leafa comes in for Shota Horie.
Meanwhile, scrum-half Nic Stirzaker's injury allows Ben Meehan to return to the matchday 23 for the first time since Round Six of the season.
Leafa, who scored his first try for the club in the 22-16 defeat to the Sharks last Friday, has worked his way back into the side, says boss McGahan.
"Pat started the season really well for us, and then Shota got in there through weight of performance," he said.
"Pat's work off the bench has really given him an opportunity to start now, in what is a really competitive positions, so we're looking for him to turn his impact off the bench into a starting position this week. He's really looking forward to the opportunity."
Toby Smith's shoulder injury again prevents the prop from tasting any action, after he also missed last week's game, but McGahan was impressed with replacement Cruze Ah-Nau on his first Super Rugby start and is happy to keep the young West Australian in there.
For the Hurricanes, coach Mark Hammett has given his forward pack a slight reshuffle.
One of the changes comes in the front row, where Reggie Goodes slots into loosehead prop for Ben Franks, who moves to tighthead in place of Jeffery Toomaga-Allen. Ardie Savea also comes into the line-up, with Jack Lam moving to the bench.
The remainder of the team will be identical to that which faced the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday, provided lock Jeremy Thrush is cleared to play. Thrush suffered a neck injury against the Waratahs, which will be monitored over the coming days.
Loose forward Brad Shields has joined the Hurricanes squad in Melbourne, and will come onto the bench if Thrush is deemed unfit, with Blade Thomson moving into the starting line-up.
Don't miss any of the action on Friday as the Rebels host the Hurricanes live on Sky Sports 3HD from 10.30am.
Rebels: 15 Woodward, 14 Sau, 13 Ellison, 12 Inman, 11 English, 10 Hegarty, 9 Burgess; 1 Ah-Nau, 2 Leafa, 3 Weeks, 4 Neville, 5 Jones, 6 Fainga'a, 7 Fuglistaller, 8 Higginbotham (c).
Replacements: 16 Horie, 17 Lahiff, 18 Alo-Emilie, 19 Pyle, 20 McMahon, 21 Meehan, 22 Kingston, 23 Roberts.
Hurricanes: 15 Taylor, 14 Jane, 13 Smith (c), 12 Leiua, 11 J Savea, 10 Barrett, 9 Perenara; 1 Goodes, 2 Coles, 3 Franks, 4 Thrush/Thomson, 5 Broadhurst, 6 Levave, 7 A Savea, 8 Vito.
Replacements: 16 Matu'u, 17 Eves, 18 Toomaga-Allen, 19 Thomson/Shields, 20 Lam, 21 Guyton, 22 Bateman, 23 Proctor