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Wallaby Taniela Tupou in line for Rebels debut against Brumbies

By Finn Morton
Taniela Tupou with ball in hand for the Wallabies. Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

The Melbourne Rebels will unleash marquee recruit Taniela Tupou upon the ACT Brumbies on Friday night after naming the Wallaby on the bench ahead of their season-opener.

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Tupou, 27, has traded Queensland’s maroon for Melbourne’s navy strip this season on a headline-grabbing deal.

But fans will have to wait a little bit to see the man known as ‘The Tongan Thor’ in action with Tupou set to come off the pine in the No. 18 jumper.

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Australian international Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, English halfback Jack Maunder, centre Filipo Daugunu and reserve Jake Strachan are also in line to debut for the Melbourne club.

“We know how important this game is to our fans, members as well as to our city and state,” coach Kevi Foote said in a statement.

“We are ready to go out there and give them a performance they can be proud of.”

Matt Gibbon, Jordan Uelese and Sam Talakai will lead the way for the Rebels after being named to start in the front row. Josh Canham and Salakaia-Loto round out the tight five.

To complete the forward pack, coach Foote has named the talented trio of Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin and captain Rob Leota to tackle the Brumbies.

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Maunder has been handed a start at scrumhalf after impressing in the pre-season trials. The halfback will partner Carter Gordon in the halves.

David Feliuai joins former Wallaby Filipo Daugunu in the midfield, will Glen Vaihu, Lachie Anderson and Wallaby Andrew Kellaway complete the starting XV.

With tickets on sale now, rugby fans can see the Melbourne Rebels take on the Brumbies in a highly anticipated Australian derby at 7.35 pm (local time) at AAMI Park

Melbourne Rebels team to take on ACT Brumbies

  1. Matt Gibbon
  2. Jordan Uelese
  3. Sam Talakai
  4. Josh Canham
  5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto*
  6. Josh Kemeny
  7. Brad Wilkin
  8. Rob Leota (c)
  9. Jack Maunder**
  10. Carter Gordon
  11. Glen Vaihu
  12. David Feliuai
  13. Filipo Daugunu*
  14. Lachie Anderson
  15. Andrew Kellaway

Reserves

  1. Alex Mafi
  2. Isaac Kailea
  3. Taniela Tupou*
  4. Tuaiana Taii Tualima
  5. Vaiolini Ekuasi
  6. James Tuttle
  7. Jake Strachan*
  8. Nick Jooste

* Denotes Rebels debut    ** Denotes Super Rugby Pacific debut

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