Hooker Uelese is set to make his first appearance of the season since undergoing a knee reconstruction almost a year ago, taking on a Sunwolves team featuring former teammate and Australian Super Rugby player of the year Amanaki Mafi.
“I think Jordie’s got to earn his way back into the team,” Wessels said on Thursday.
“I think both Roachie and Anaru have been playing well and it wouldn’t be right for a guy to leap-frog them until he’s had the opportunity to earn that spot.
“But to give Jordie his due, he’s in the best physical shape that I’ve ever seen so I’m looking forward to what he’s going to bring.”
Wessels said Coleman was also in great shape, having focused on his conditioning in an interrupted season, and expected him to bring a “presence”.
The last time the teams met the Rebels had a 45-10 victory but Wessels predicted a sterner test in Tokyo with explosive ball-carrier Mafi in the backrow.
The No.8 left the Rebels in disgrace at the end of last season, accused of assaulting a teammate following their final round game in New Zealand.
He didn’t play when the Sunwolves were crushed 33-0 by the Brumbies in their last outing before their bye.
With four rounds to play, including games against the defending champion Crusaders and Waratahs, the Rebels need to bank the win against the lowly Sunwolves to help secure a maiden finals berth.
Wessels said it would be naive to think his players hadn’t done the maths but all they needed to think about was winning.
“We haven’t talked about it but the reality is that we’ve got to do our thing.
“It’s such a funny comp with everyone knocking off everyone else and there’s a lot of rugby to be played so all you can control is your own performance.”
Rebels: Dane Haylett-Petty (c), Jack Maddocks, Reece Hodge, Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Richard Hardwick, Angus Cottrell, Ross Haylett-Petty, Adam Coleman, Matt Philip, Sam Talakai, Hugh Roach, Matt Gibbon. Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Tetera Faulkner, Jermaine Ainsley, Sam Jeffries, Rob Leota, Michael Ruru, Matt Toomua, Tom English.
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