Melbourne Rebels name rookies to make Super Rugby debuts


Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan has named three rookies in his starting side to play the Blues in the opening match of the 2017 Super Rugby season.

Former Eastern Suburbs and Australian U20s flyer Jack Maddocks will start the match on the wing, with No.8 Amanaki Mafi and flyhalf Jackson Garden-Bachop also set to make their Super Rugby debuts.

“A couple injuries and illnesses during the trial phase has impacted selection for our season opener but the situation presents an early opportunity for players to put their hand up and stake their claim for positions,” McGahan said.

“It’s unfortunate we’re missing key players for round one, we gave everyone the chance to prove their fitness and availability, but it’s too early in the season to risk the long term health of our players with a big season still ahead of us.”

The Rebels will open the Super Rugby season for the third time in seven years when they host the Blues in the opening game of the season at AAMI Park on Thursday night.

The head-to-head results favours the Blues 3-2 however the home side has won all five previous meetings, including a 42-22 Rebels victory when the two sides last met at AAMI Park in 2015.

“There’s no shying away from the challenge against the Blues, they’re going to be a physical side full of confidence after their trial victory over the Chiefs last week, but we’ve got 23 fit players ready to roll up their sleeves and eager to impress,” McGahan said.

Melbourne Rebels team to play Blues:

Cruze Ah-Nau, Pat Leafa, Laurie Weeks, Steve Cummins, Lopeti Timani, Jordy Reid, Colby Fainga’a, Amanaki Mafi, Nic Stirzaker, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Tom English, Reece Hodge, Mitch Inman, Jack Maddocks, Jack Debreczeni. Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Tom Moloney, Tyrel Lomax, Culum Retallick, Jake Schatz, Ben Meehan, Sione Tuipulotu, Jonah Placid.