Rebels make changes for Super Bulls clash

27/04/2020 Posted by admin

Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels hopes Reece Hodge will bring back their Super Rugby intensity.Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels says his new halfback Michael Ruru has some “pig-dog” about him that makes him perfect to take on the Bulls in their Super Rugby clash in Pretoria.

Ruru has come into Saturday night’s starting line-up to replace injured Test star Will Genia, as the Rebels search for their first win in South Africa.

Genia had been instrumental in Melbourne’s early-season success but Wessels said Ruru, whom he coached at the Western Force, was up for the challenge.

“Any team would miss Will but I think we’re very fortunate we’ve got Michael,” Wessels said from Johannesburg, where the team was preparing.

“Mike has been chomping at the bit to get his start.

“Everyone knows what a good player he is and what a competitor he is and, in some ways, Mike’s the type of player we need for a difficult away assignment.

“He’s got a bit of pig-dog about him and, the tougher things get, the more Mike enjoys it.”

While Genia is out, the Rebels welcome back fellow Wallaby Reece Hodge, who will partner Tom English in the centres.

A hamstring strain mean Hodge missed last round’s loss to the Jaguares, when they gave up a 19-6 lead for a three-point loss.

Wessels said the team were most disappointed with their intensity, and hoped Hodge would help improve that among the backs.

“That was a game where we put ourselves in a position to win and we didn’t but, more importantly, our intensity wasn’t where we wanted it to be.

“We set a marker for ourselves in previous performances and, for whatever reason, we didn’t get things right.”

Test lock Matt Philip and back-rower Angus Cottrell have also come into the starting line-up, with lock Geoff Parling and flanker Richard Hardwick relegated to the bench.

Wessels said shifting former British and Irish Lion Parling to the reserves was part of a plan to get more leadership in the back end of the game, when the Rebels have faded three times this season.

“Geoff’s been there and done that and I think he understands how to highlight things in your favour in pressure situations, particularly around his experience in set piece.”

While Melbourne have lost their past two outings, the Bulls have recently found their best form under ex-All Blacks coach John Mitchell.

The Bulls have beaten fellow South African teams the Stormers and Sharks impressively in the past two rounds.


Dane Haylett-Petty, Jack Maddocks, Tom English, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jack Debreczeni, Michael Ruru, Amanaki Mafi, Angus Cottrell, Ross Haylett-Petty, Adam Coleman (capt), Matt Philip, Sam Talakai, Anaru Rangi, Tetera Faulkner.

Res: Jordan Uelese, Fereti Sa’aga, Jermaine Ainsley, Geoff Parling, Richard Hardwick, Harrison Goddard, Billy Meakes, Sefa Naivalu.

Australian Associated Press

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