The Melbourne Rebels have made seven changes to their starting XV ahead of the Club's crucial clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Headlining the changes to the side is the inclusion of Wallaby hooker Jordan Uelese, who’s earned a starting spot at hooker for the first time in 2019.
The Rebels will also field a new halves combination for the match, with scrum half Michael Ruru set to partner with flyhalf Matt To’omua.
Melbourne will be without starting number 9 Will Genia, who will miss the trans-Tasman trip as part of the Wallabies rest policy, while Marika Koroibete will start on the bench. Quade Cooper will also begin as a replacement acknowledging his heavy workload having started in every match this season.
Sam Talakai, Angus Cottrell, Tom English and Billy Meakes will all make their return to the starting XV, while Harrison Goddard will potentially make his second appearance of 2019 after being named on the bench.
Head Coach Dave Wessels says the changes within the side has created multiple opportunities for other members of the playing group, with Wessels especially coy on hooker Jordan Uelese earning his first start of the season.
“It’s nice to have Jordy back,” Wessels said.
“We’re in a position where we have three hookers playing well. I think Roachy (Hugh Roach) has played well, but he’s played a lot of minutes in the last couple of weeks, so he gets a breather and Jordy is fresh and ready to go.”
Wessels also says the resting of Quade Cooper came down to the star play maker needing reduced minutes after a heavy workload.
“Quade’s had a massive workload, he’s played every game so far,” Wessels said.
“For him to be able to have a breather is handy for us and to Matt To’omua’s credit he’s fitted in well.”
With so many changes slated for the side, Wessels has rebuked suggestions his side is looking to load up for the Club’s final home game against the Chiefs, saying the Rebels are not in the position to do so.
“We don’t have the luxury of taking things easy,” Wessels said.
“We’ve got to fight for every opportunity, and this is another opportunity.”
Melbourne Rebels Match Day 23 v Crusaders, Saturday 8 June, kick off 5:35pm (EST)
Ins: Harrison Goddard, Jordan Uelese
Outs: Will Genia, Hugh Roach
1. Tetera Faulkner
2. Jordan Uelese
3. Sam Talakai
4. Matt Philip
5. Adam Coleman
6. Angus Cottrell
7. Richard Hardwick
8. Isi Naisarani
9. Michael Ruru
10. Matt To'omua
11. Tom English
12. Bill Meakes
13. Reece Hodge
14. Jack Maddocks
15. Dane Haylett-Petty (c)
16. Anaru Rangi
17. Matt Gibbon
18. Jermaine Ainsley
19. Luke Jones
20. Ross Haylett-Petty
21. Harrison Goddard
22. Quade Cooper
23. Marika Koroibete