The Melbourne Rebels Super W side have made three changes to their team ahead of the side’s Round 2 clash against Brumbies Women in Canberra on Sunday.
Coming off a tough loss to Queensland Women, the Rebels have elected to go for more positional changes than team changes, with Head Coach Alana Thomas signalling a new-look look XV.
Thrown into the starting side will be 17-year-old Utumalefata To'omalatai Atonio Eli, who will debut at blindside flanker, while young back Mikaela Welti has been named to start on the bench alongside Bree-Anna Cheatham.
The Rebels will go into Sunday’s game without flyhalf Tuala Hunt, who suffered a season-ending medial ligament rupture, while Alice Tonumaivao and Carmen Landkauf have not been selected due to injury.
Tiarah Minns will enter the starting XV at lock, with May Sa’aga moving into flanker, while Brooke Moselen will move into number eight.
Georgia Page has earned a starting spot at fullback, with Co-Captain Meretiana Robinson selected to start at centre.
Head Coach Alana Thomas says the playing group has looked to move on quickly after a less than ideal start to their 2019 campaign.
Thomas believes the key to getting their season back on track this weekend will be to focus on the basics which will help the side improve.
“After a loss like that you can tend to over-analyse things, so we’ve just got to get them focussing on the key things we’ve got to improve on like playing to our structure and moving quickly forward,” Thomas said.
“When we play our structures, I believe we play quite well, and we have the skills and the abilities to match it with the sides that we’re playing.”
One player Thomas has highlighted to have a real positive impact on the team is back Georgia Page.
Page, who started in the reserves in Round 1, has been elevated to starting full back based on her strong performance in the final half of the Queensland match.
“Her energy, chat and intent when she got out there was really good and all the girls mentioned when she came on, she really gave them a lift,” Thomas said.
“Putting her to fullback gives her the freedom to roam a bit more and get involved in the play and general play, rather than put her on the wing.”
While both the Brumbies and Rebels enter Sunday’s match having not scored a point in the 2019, Thomas believes the real point of difference between the two sides will ultimately come down to who can defend the best.
“If we can win that defence battle and that contact battle, then I think it’ll go a long way to really putting us in good stead to challenging the Brumbies.”
Melbourne Rebels Super W match day 23 v Brumbies, Sunday March 3
1. Janita Kareta
2. Ashley Marsters
3. Titilia Yabaki
4. Georgia Bradbery
5. Tiarah Minns
6. Utumalefata To'omalatai Atonio Eli
7. May Sa'aga
8. Brooke Moselen
9. Wynonah Conway
10. Liana Pritchard-Matamua
11. Tyra Boysen-Auimatagi
12. Meretiana Robinson
14. Belle Hunt
15. Georgia Page
17. Faith Masina
18. Tuputausi Sae
19. Yvonne Callaghan
20. Bree-Anna Cheatham
21. Jessie Treherne
22. Tangata Tupou
23. Mikaela Welti