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Rebels prop Taniela Tupou returns to starting side to face former team

By Finn Morton
Taniela Tupou of the Rebels in action during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, on February 23, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Former Reds enforcer Taniela Tupou will start at tighthead prop against his old side when the Melbourne Rebels host the Queenslanders under the lights at AAMI Park on Friday night.

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The Rebels, who started their season with a disastrous defeat to the Brumbies, have bounced back to win their last two which included a clinical win over Moana Pasifika in Hamilton.

With two wins from three starts, the Rebels have defied off-field drama and expectations to sit in fourth place on the Super Rugby Pacific standings.

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But their next opponents sit just above them in third.

Front rowers Jordan Uelese and Matt Gibbon will pack down alongside Taniela Tupou, who impressed off the pine during the Rebels’ win across the ditch in Round Three.

“Coming into this week, I don’t want to look at it and make it personal, I will just try and focus on what we do here and do whatever it takes to get us the win,” Tupou said in a statement.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Josh Canham will combine at lock once again, while flankers Josh Kemeny and Vaiolini Ekuasi set to join captain Rob Leota in the backrow.

Halves Ryan Louwrens and Wallaby Carter Gordon will link up once again, with powerful ball carries David Feliuai and Filipo Daugunu just outside them in the midfield.

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Wing Glen Vaihu returns to the starting side in the No. 11 jumper, while Andrew Kellaway shifts from the right wing back to fullback. Lining up in the No. 14 jersey is Lachie Anderson.

The Rebels’ clash with Australian rivals the Queensland Reds is scheduled to get underway at 7:35 pm AEDT on Friday night at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.

Rebels team to take on Reds

  1. Matt Gibbon
  2. Jordan Uelese
  3. Taniela Tupou
  4. Josh Canham
  5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
  6. Josh Kemeny
  7. Vaiolini Ekuasi
  8. Rob Leota (c)
  9. Ryan Louwrens
  10. Carter Gordon
  11. Glen Vaihu
  12. David Feliuai
  13. Filipo Daugunu
  14. Lachie Anderson
  15. Andrew Kellaway

Replacements

  1. Ethan Dobbins**
  2. Isaac Kailea
  3. Sam Talakai
  4. Tuaina Taii Tualima
  5. Maciu Nabolakasi**
  6. Angelo Smith
  7. Jake Strachan

23 James Tuttle

** denotes potential debut

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