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Isi Naisarani to return via the bench for Rebels in crucial clash against the Brumbies

By AAP

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Melissa Woods

Wallabies No.8 Isi Naisarani in his first match of the Super Rugby AU season, as they look to firm up a finals berth in the penultimate round.

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Naisarani has been named on the bench for Sunday’s clash with the Brumbies at AAMI Park, but rebels skipper Dane Haylett-Petty has been left out as the Test utility continues his build-up after concussion issues.

Tom Pincus will start at fullback, replacing another injured Wallabies star Reece Hodge, while burly inside centre Campbell Magnay will add some starch in his first hit-out of the year.

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Trevor Hosea Wallaby press conference

Lock Ross Haylett-Petty returns via the bench after a three-match ban, along with prop Cameron Orr after a long stint sidelined with a hamstring injury.

The Rebels are looking for a bonus-point win to try to shake off the Western Force in the chase to join the Brumbies and unbeaten Queensland Reds in the three-team playoffs.

The Force host the winless NSW Waratahs on Saturday night while the Reds have the bye with skipper Liam Wright among five players getting a run in Brisbane club rugby.

“It’s awesome to have so many guys back in the mix,” said Rebels coach Dave Wessels.

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“We’ve gone through the majority of the season without having a lot of our senior players on deck.

“We’ve missed three wins by the last play of the game, so we need to make sure we’re finishing off the moments we are creating, especially now being at the business end of the season.”

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar made five changes to his starting 15 as he looks to freshen up his squad.

Halfback Ryan Lonergan will have his first start of the year with Wallabies ace Nic White filling a bench role.

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Bayley Kuenzle will start at inside centre, partnering Len Ikitau, while they have a new-look backrow including flanker Rory Scott in his first start.

The Force are determined to book successive victories over the Waratahs, aiming to leapfrog the Rebels, who are one point clear on the Super Rugby AU ladder.

Following last week’s win in Melbourne coach Tim Sampson made three changes, with tryscorer Tim Anstee in the line-up in place of flanker Fergus Lee-Warner, and Brynard Stander the new No.8.

Richard Kahui starts on the right wing replacing Byron Ralston (concussion).

“I’m expecting a very different match compared to last Friday,” said Sampson.

“The Waratahs play a different style with plenty of width, so our defence will have to be on point to negate that threat.”

The Waratahs have a new five-eighth with Ben Donaldson to start in place of injured Will Harrison.

Flanker Lachie Swinton returns from a foot injury to push Hugh Sinclair into the second row.

Melissa Woods

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Isi Naisarani to return via the bench for Rebels in crucial clash against the Brumbies

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