Melbourne will have a new halves pairing to take on the high-flying Brumbies on Friday night with halfback Ryan Louwrens undergoing biceps surgery, which rules him out for the rest of the Super Rugby AU season.

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One of the Rebels’ best this year, Louwrens suffered the injury while making a tackle in their last-round win over Western Force.

Fiji international Frank Lomani is at No.9, with former Red James Tuttle on the bench.

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Melbourne coach Dave Wessels named Andrew Deegan at five-eighth and shifted Matt Toomua to inside centre, saying he wants more from his backline in the Leichhardt Stadium clash.

He has also included big outside centre Campbell Magnay, with Billy Meakes starting in the reserves.

“We feel our young forward pack have been going well but we’ve lacked a bit of cohesion in our backs,” Wessels said.

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“Campbell is an out and out 13 and he will make a big impression for us linking the inside and outside of our attack.

“This is an important game for our backs who need to take a step up.”

Currently third, the Rebels are looking to inflict the Brumbies’ first loss of the season and start to lock down a finals berth.

“We want to start building some momentum as we did at the start of the year when we had a bit of a slow start and started to build into it,” Wessels said.

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“This game is important for that – the Brumbies are a team we like playing against and we’ve had a fair amount of success against – so this is an opportunity to try to start to play with some intensity.”

Melbourne Rebels: Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Campbell Magnay, Matt Toomua (c), Marika Koroibete, Andrew Deegan, Frank Lomani, Isi Naisarani, Brad Wilkin, Josh Kemeny, Trevor Hosea, Matt Philip, Jermaine Ainsley, Jordan Uelese, Cameron Orr. Melbourne will have a new halves pairing to take on the high-flying Brumbies on Friday night with halfback Ryan Louwrens undergoing biceps surgery, which rules him out for the rest of the Super Rugby AU season. Efitusi Ma’afu, Cabous Eloff, Pone Fa’amaluli, Michael Stolberg, Richard Hardwick, Rob Leota, James Tuttle, Billy Meakes.

– Melissa Woods

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