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'This week is do or die': Wallabies number 8 looking to keep season alive while Waratahs try to avoid winless season

By AAP
(Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

Isi Naisarani isn’t ready for his Super Rugby AU season to be over and vowed to do all he can to see Melbourne into the finals with a win over the Waratahs on Saturday night.

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The Rebels will know exactly what’s ahead of them before kick-off at Bankwest Stadium, with their finals rivals Western Force hosting unbeaten Queensland on Friday night.

If the Force win they will secure the remaining play-off position and it’s season over for Melbourne, putting additional pressure on coach Dave Wessels.

Wallabies No.8 Naisarani has been named in the starting side after making his return from off-season knee surgery last week via the bench, with Brad Wilkin also a new face in the back-row.

Ross Haylett-Petty will replace suspended lock Trevor Hosea.

Skipper Dane Haylett-Petty has fallen short in his comeback quest at after ongoing concussion issues.

Young Queensland playmaker Carter Gordon and English recruit George Worth are set to make their Rebels debut after being named in the reserves.

Naisarani said he was excited to be back in the starting side after a frustrating 12 months, also suffering a serious hamstring injury last year.

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“This week is do or die for us against the Waratahs,” the 26-year-old told AAP.

“For myself, I need to give everything and be physically present with big carries and tackling.

“I had to earn the right to be in the team and have been given the chance to start so I will do everything I can because we need a win to play finals.”

Off-contract Naisarani said he was still mulling his future, but was focused on playing and leaving contracts with his manager.

The Waratahs have named the same starting 15 that fell achingly short last round against the Force, with Ben Donaldson again donning the No.10 jersey.

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The NSW outfit are looking to avoid their first-ever winless Super season.

The Reds have named Test stars centre Hunter Paisami, Fijian flyer Filipo Daugunu and skipper Liam Wright in his first start as they gun for their eighth straight win.

Reds coach Brad Thorn said both teams had plenty to play for as they tune-up for next month’s grand final, which they will host.

Force coach Tim Sampson has made three changes for the crucial match, with Irish veteran Rob Kearney returning at fullback after an adductor injury.

Speedster Toni Pulu also makes his first start since a round four hamstring injury, while former Wallabies prop Greg Holmes is at tighthead.

Argentinian halves duo Tomas Cubelli and Domingo Miotti remain in place.

Sampson and his side were confident of securing their third consecutive win and first Super Rugby AU finals berth.

“I think the squad is oozing confidence after showing great character with how we’ve won those last two games,” Sampson said.

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M
Mzilikazi 2 hours ago
Is the Six Nations balance of power shifting?

An hugely interesting article. Thanks, Nick. Some seem to find this a poor 6 N, but I think it has thrown up a number of fascinating contests. Ofc the falling away of France is always going to be a major point of discussion. The loss of both half backs has hurt them for sure. But they should still be better. Both France and England could easily have been sitting with three defeats right now, especially France. In England’s case, I thought the try Mitchell scored against the Italians was lucky, as he was clearly held in the tackle , but carried on to the line without releasing and regaining the ball. The English blitz defence being talked about so much is still a work in progress, and Ireland, with their powerful men in both backs and forwards can do damage there. I also thought in last weekends game against Scotland, England were pushingtheir luck at the breakdowns, turning them into a chaotic brawl. A different referee may not see it their way so much against Ireland and France. Ireland’s front row does concern me. The starters have not always looked in control, and Andrew Porter is a worry, as he will now be very closely watched in these next two games. Tadgh Furlong is not the player he was at the set piece, and will need to be on his mettle against the very streetwise Genge at Twickenham. I really enjoyed the stats heavy approach in this article. So much that passes one by are brought starkly into the light of day. Finn Russell’s deadly accuracy, the significance of the Welsh backrow duo, Italy’s attacking drop of under a new coach, as they are coming much closer to winning in these games this year.

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