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Rebels make changes after Sunwolves battering

By Online Editors
Michael Wells. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels has replaced his props and openside flanker in a bid to atone an embarrassing season-opening loss to the Sunwolves.


The Rebels travel to Canberra and face reigning Australian conference champions the Brumbies in round two of Super Rugby on Friday.

Rebels props Matt Gibbon and Ruan Smith come into the starting XV alongside No.7 Michael Wells who replaces young gun Robbie Leota.

Wessels wants his men to show more physicality after they were bullied in Tokyo by the Sunwolves, who exit the tournament at the end of the season.

“We were very unhappy with our performance. We’re a good team who played badly, I don’t think we’re a bad team,” Wessels said.

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“We didn’t defend well. We weren’t happy with our level of physicality – we’ve looked at that pretty hard this week.

“There’s some frustration in the group at the moment. With ourselves more than anything else. We feel like we’ve let each other down.

“We’ve had a disappointing start but we’ve learnt in the past that Super Rugby is not won in round one, so hopefully this is a turning point for the rest of our season.”

The Rebels have won their past four clashes against the Brumbies and will look to halt their nine-game winning run at home.


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“We know if we play well we can cause them a lot of problems, as we have done a number of times over the last couple of years,” Wessels said.

“Maybe we were a bit too conservative going into the Sunwolves game, so we’ve certainly got a few things we’ll unleash on Friday night.

“We want to play the game now and get last Saturday out of our mind as quickly as we can.”

Wessels said a short turnaround and international travel was behind his front-row changes, while he wanted Wells’ experience against the Brumbies.

“The primary battle you have with the Brumbies is their set-piece,” he said.

“(Brumbies prop) Allan Alaalatoa has played 80 minutes so he’s playing against two relatively fresh props and I think over the course of a game that’s going to make a difference.”

Reserve backs Theo Strang and Andrew Deegan make way for Ryan Louwrens and Campbell Magnay on the bench.

Luke Jones has been sidelined with a back injury, allowing former Sharks lock Gideon Koegelenberg to make his Rebels debut off the bench.

Rebels: Dane Haylett-Petty (c), Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge, Billy Meakes, Andrew Kellaway, Matt Toomua, Frank Lomani, Isi Naisarani, Michael Wells, Angus Cottrell, Matt Philip, Ross Haylett-Petty, Ruan Smith, Anaru Rangi, Matt Gibbon. Reserves: Steven Misa, Cameron Orr, Jermaine Ainsley, Gideon Koegelenberg, Robbie Leota, Richard Hardwick, Ryan Louwrens, Campbell Magnay.


Israel Folau has given his first interview since his new appointment with Catalans Dragons:

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