Rebels name team to face Crusaders

Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan has named his Super Rugby team to play the Crusaders in Christchurch with four players set to make their Rebels debut.

Wallabies Mike Harris and Dom Shipperley making their first appearance for the Rebels and Whittaker and Sefanaia Naivalu on the replacements bench.

Whittaker signed for the Club after returning to Melbourne from Biarritz, while Naivalu could make history if the former Box Hill flyer becomes the first ever player to represent the Rebels after being signed from the Dewar Shield, Victoria’s premier Club Rugby competition.

Jack Debreczeni starts at ten with Nic Stirzaker to pick up where the pair left off with the Melbourne Rising in the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC), after being named in the halves.

In other selection news, centre Tamati Ellison has returned from his playing stint in Japan’s top league to resume his fruitful midfield partnership with Mitch Inman, while Nic Stirzaker and Jack Debreczeni will pick up where they

Sam Jeffries will be hopeful of adding to his one Super Rugby cap, earned in the final round last year, after the second rower was named on the bench.

McGahan said that with only one player (Tom Kingston) unavailable due to injury, selecting a squad of 23 was a difficult task.

“It’s a good position to be in, with almost everybody up and running and competing for places,” he said. “We have had to leave behind some very good players, who are very disappointed.

“The 23 we selected get the first opportunity to represent us in Round One; they have earned it, and we’re excited to get out there and kick off our campaign.”

Rebels

1. Toby Smith ,2. Pat Leafa,3. Laurie Weeks ,4. Luke Jones,5. Lopeti Timani ,6. Sean McMahon ,7. Colby Fainga’a ,8. Scott Higginbotham ,9. Nic Stirzaker,10. Jack Debreczeni ,11. Tom English ,12. Mitch Inman ,13. Tamati Ellison ,14. Dom Shipperley *,15. Mike Harris *

Replacements : 16. Ben Whittaker *,17. Cruze Ah-Nau ,18. Paul Alo-Emile ,19. Sam Jeffries ,20. Scott Fuglistaller ,21. Luke Burgess ,22. Bryce Hegarty ,23. Sefanaia Naivalu **

* Denotes Rebels debut,**
Denotes Super Rugby debut

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