The Rebels and Force meet at AAMI Park with big inclusions on both teams. Join The roar for live results and updates from 7:30pm AEST.
Simon Cron has made four changes on his 23rd matchday, including the long-awaited inclusion of the Wallabies, blocking Izack Rodda from the bench.
Wallaby, who has played 34 caps, rejoins the team after injuring his foot in the pre-season game against Fijian Drua.
Standing at 202cm tall, Rodda’s physique will be well received against an impressive group of Rebels forwards. He’ll step into the second row, where the ever-consistent Jeremy Williams and dominant ballrunner Felix Kalapu start the game.
The front row makeup is 21-year-old Siosifa Amone, who starts as right prop, joined by Angus Wagner and Folau Fainga’a as the hooker.
But the Force have taken a major blow with the loss of Test prop Tom Robertson to an ACL injury. The Wallabies’ stocks are already down with the injury to Angus Bell, and Robertson was ranked second to James Slipper in The Roar’s most recent Wallabies power rankings.
Melbourne Rebels head coach Kevin Foote has made six changes for the Round 14 clash, in the home team’s last game at AAMI Park for 2023.
All-star flywheel Carter Gordon returns for his 12th game of the season after recovering from a bruised knee, while milestone man Reece Hodge returns to the 12th after filling in Gordon’s absence last week.
Workhorse Josh Kemeny has also been called up for his first match since Round 11, named alongside captain Brad Wilkin and Richard Hardwick in the back row, while Vaiolini Ekuasi will provide a valuable second-half impact.
Rising hooker Theo Fourie has been named to make his Super Rugby debut.
After coming to the club in 2020, Fourie has worked closely under international internationals Jordan Uelese and Rebels alumnus James Hanson and is shaping up to be a player to watch the crucial clash.
Rebel Sam Talakai said the players were focused on putting on a great performance for their loyal fans and celebrating the spectacular achievement of their teammate Reece Hodge.
“Last week was really tough for us, but we reviewed a lot and now we’re focused on this week and staying cool in the big moments and turning those narrow losses into wins,” Talakai said.
“The Force puts up some really tough opposition for us, especially defensively, so we have to narrow the focus and take what we have to the last game at home and perform well for ourselves, our family and friends, and our amazing members. and followers.
“It’s also a great occasion for the club with Hodgey. Reece is a special part of this group and brings a wealth of experience. How he behaves day by day: he is the best professional and, for us, we want the night to be very special for him ”.
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Start time: 7:35pm AEST
Transmission: Stan Sport
Betting: Rebels $1.40 Force $3.00 – odds via PlayUp
Rebels (1-15): Matt Gibbon, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai, Josh Canham, Matt Philip, Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin (c), Richard Hardwick, Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Monty Ioane, Reece Hodge, Lukas Ripley Lachie Anderson, Andrew Kellaway.
Replacements: Theo Fourie, Isaac Aedo Kailea, Pone Fa’amausili, Trevor Hosea, Vaiolini Ekuasi, James Tuttle, Nick Jooste, Joe Pincus.
Strength (1-15): Angus Warner, Folau Fainga’a, Siosifa Amone, Felix Kalapu, Jeremy Williams, Michael Wells (c), Carlo Tizzano, Rahboni Vosayaco, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Max Burey, Manasa Mataele, Hamish Stewart, Sam Spink, Zach Kibirge, Chase Aunt Aunt.
Replacements: Tom Horton, Marley Pearce, Bo Abra, Izack Rodda, Tim Anstee, Isi Naisarani, Ian Prior, George Poolman.
Referee: Dan Waenga.