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Rebels fast-track Sunwolves lock into starting side for Matt Toomua's 100th game

By AAP
(Photo by Teaukura Moetaua/Getty Images)

Injuries have opened the door for four players to make their Melbourne Rebels debut against the Brumbies in their Super Rugby AU competition kick-off on Saturday night in Canberra.

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The Rebels will be without Wallabies No.8 Isi Naisairani, who has a hamstring injury, with a number of new faces in their pack.

Former Sunwolves lock Michael Stolberg has forced his way into the starting side, 21-year-old Josh Kemeny will wear the No.6 jersey for the first time after impressing during the COVID break, while forwards Efitusi Maafu and Trevor Hosea have been included on the bench.

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Hooker Anaru Rangi will miss the clash with a knee injury, with Test rake Jordan Uelese starting.

Wallabies playmaker Matt Toomua will play his 100th Super Rugby match, lining up against the club where started his career.

He felt Brumbies youngster Noah Lolesio got the better of him in their round two meeting and was looking to square up.

Toomua admitted i t was a strange time to be bringing up his milestone, with the Rebels forced to relocate to the ACT due to a coronavirus spike in Melbourne.

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“It is odd, but we’re all just excited to play – I don’t think I need any more motivation,” the 30-year-old said.

“It’s a bit fitting coming back here to have it in Canberra … but coming back from this COVID thing it’s very much overshadowed.

“There’s a lot of fresh blood out there and I think it’s a cool little chapter we’re about to write for Australian rugby.”

Toomua felt the Rebels were hitting their straps when the regular Super competition was shut down in March after seven rounds, with the Brumbies runaway Australian conference leaders.

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“When this new competition happened, the Waratahs were pretty happy we were all starting fresh on zero points, the Brumbies were pretty filthy, and we were pretty ambivalent.

“If you look at the competition you probably think Brumbies away is one of the tougher matches and we’ve got that round one and that gets you going, which is good.”

Rebels: Dane Haylett-Petty (c), Andrew Kellaway, Reece Hodge, Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Matt To’omua, Ryan Louwrens, Michael Wells, Richard Hardwick, Josh Kemeny, Michael Stolberg, Matt Philip, Pone Fa’amausili, Jordan Uelese, Matt Gibbon. Reserves: Efitusi Maafu, Cameron Orr, Jermaine Ainsley, Esei Haangana, Rob Leota, Frank Lomani, Andrew Deegan.

– Melissa Woods

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finn 4 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

12 Go to comments
S
Simon 7 hours ago
Is the Six Nations balance of power shifting?

There are a few issues with the article. Despite somehow getting to a RWC semi final, England are nowhere near Probable status and should be swapped with Scotland on current form. France’s failure at RWC 23 has massively hit their mindset. Psychologically, they need a reset of gigantic proportions otherwise they will revert to, Top 14 first, international rugby an afterthought again. Ireland are allowed to play the way they are by less than acceptable officiating. Make no bones about it, with Easterby coaching, Ireland cheat, they break the rules at almost every facet of the game and generally referees, influenced by the media that Ireland are somehow playing the best rugby in the world, allow them. Scrums - Porter never pushes straight and immediately turns in. The flankers lose their binds and almost latch on to the opposition props. Rucks - they always and I mean always clear out from the side and take players out beyond the ball, effectively taking them out of being ready for the next phase. Not once do green shirts enter rucks from the rear foot. Referees should be made to look at the video of the game against Wales and see that Irish backs and forwards happily enter rucks from the side to effect a clearout, thus giving them the sub 3 second ruck speed everybody dreams about. They also stand in offside positions at rucks to ‘block’ opposing players from making clear tackles allowing the ball carrier to break the gainline almost every time. They then turn and are always ahead of play and therefore enter subsequent rucks illegally. Mauls - there is always a blocker between the ball catcher and the opposition. It is subtle but it is there. Gatland still needs to break the shackles and allow his team a bit more freedom to play rugby. He no longer has a team of 16 stone plus players who batter the gainline. He has to adapt and be more thoughtful in attack. Scotland are playing well but they have the creaky defence that leaks tries.

31 Go to comments
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