Rebels give Hosea the start, Olympian makes his debut, Highlanders make mass changes

All roads lead to Melbourne and AAMI Park for the Super Rugby Pacific second round matches this weekend. The Rebels are the first Australian sides into action on Friday night and will look to end a 10-game losing streak against the Hurricanes, who clinched a round one win over Queensland.

The Waratahs take on Drua on Saturday night, while the Brumbies take on the Blues on Sunday before the festival concludes with the Force vs Reds clash.

This is how the teams meet this weekend.

(All games are held at AAMI Park, all times are AEDT)


Crusaders vs. Highlanders, 6 p.m

The Crusaders were surprisingly turned around by the Chiefs last week, returning inspirational All Black Sam Whitelock for the latter.

Injuries to Cullen Grace and Fletcher Newell have prompted changes elsewhere on the forward team, with Scott Robertson promoting Tamaiti Williams and Christian Lio-Willie. David Havili moves from full-back to center with Fergus Burke in 15th.

The Highlanders have to do without three All Blacks due to load management programs. Aaron Smith sits out for his second game, while flanker Shannon Frizell and loosehead prop Ethan de Groot are also dismissed.

Loose striker Marino Mikaele-Tu’u is out through injury after suffering a rib damage early in the 60-20 defeat by the Blues.

Nikora Broughton, who captained the NZ Barbarians U20 team last year, will make his debut at No. 8 while manager Clarke Dermody has opted for a new 9-10 combination – Kemara Hauiti-Parapara and – after the Blues debacle Freddie Burns will be led by Folau Fakatava and Mitch Hunt.

Sam Whitelock Crusaders Super Rugby Rugby Union 2016

Sam Whitelock takes a high ball for the Crusaders. (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

Crusaders (1-15): Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Tamaiti Williams, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Ethan Blackadder, Tom Christie, Christian Lio-Willie, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo’unga, Leicester Fainga’anuku, David Havili, Jack Goodhue, Sevu Reece, Fergus Burke .
Substitute: Brodie McAlister, George Bower, Seb Calder, Zach Gallagher, Sione Havili Talitui, Noah Hotham, Braydon Enner, Macca Springer.

Highlanders (1-15): Ayden Johnstone, Andrew Makalio, Jermaine Ainsley, Paripari Parkinson, Will Tucker, Billy Harmon, Sean Withy, Nikora Broughton, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Freddie Burns, Connor Garden-Bachop, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Josh Timu, Jonah Lowe, Sam Gilbert .

Substitute: Rhys Marshall, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Saula Ma’u, Max Hicks, James Lentjes, Folau Fakatava, Mitch Hunt, Mosese Dawai.

referee: Nick Berry

Important facts: Crusaders have won nine of their last 10 Super Rugby games against Highlanders (L1), including the last two. The Crusaders are trying to avoid opening a straight-loss super rugby season for the first time since 2014. The Crusaders lead the head-to-head game 31-12 in a tie.

Melbourne Rebels v Hurricanes, 8:10 p.m

Trevor Hosea is making his starting debut for the Rebels as one of three changes to the team’s starting XV, which was overrun by Western Force in Perth on Saturday.

Hosea will pair with Josh Canham and form an all-Victorian second row.

Tuaina Taii Tualima came on as a blindside flanker, while Olympic Sevens player Joe Pincus was named full-back for his SRP debut.

The 2020 Olympic gold medalist is one of two debutants for the 2023 Rebels home game alongside Angelo Smith.

Cameron Orr is back for his first match of 2023.

“We can’t wait to play our first home game of a special week for Melbourne,” said Rebels coach Kevin Foote.

“We have selected a balanced team with exciting young talent and international experience. Having guys like Trevor Hosea and Josh Kemeny coming back, guys who are young and growing up, is huge.

“Playing the Hurricanes, the first Kiwi team of the season, will be a big challenge for our group. We were sorely disappointed with the result of Round 1, so we’re looking forward to another opportunity to dig into it this week.

“We want to play rugby that is fast, fearless and determined. Something that represents the energy of Melbourne and a brand that will make Melburnians proud of the rebels.”

Hurricanes coach Jason Holland made three changes to the starting team that beat the Reds 47-13 in Townsville.

All Blacks tighthead mainstay Tyrel Lomax is promoted to the XV with Owen Franks on the bench. There is a change in both flankers, with Brayden Iose (blindside) and Du’Plessis Kirifi (openside) being promoted to start alongside No. 8 Ardie Savea.

The only change to the 23 is a call for center Riley Higgins.

Rebels (1-15): Matt Gibbon, Alex Mafi, Sam Talakai, Josh Canham, Trevor Hosea, Tuiana Taii Tualima, Brad Wilkin, Richard Hardwick, Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Monty Ioane, Stacey Ili, Reece Hodge, Lachie Anderson, Joe Pincus.

Substitute: Jordan Uelese, Cameron Orr, Pone Fa’amausili, Angelo Smith, Josh Kemeny, James Tuttle, Lukas Ripley23. Nick Jooste

Hurricanes (1-15): Xavier Numia, Dane Coles, Tyrel Lomax, James Blackwell, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Brayden Iose, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Ardie Savea (c), Cam Roigard, Aidan Morgan, Salesi Rayasi, Jordie Barrett, Billy Proctor, Julian Savea, Josh Moorby

Substitute: Asafo Aumua, Tevita Mafileo, Owen Franks, Caleb Delany, Peter Lakai, Jamie Booth, Riley Higgins, Harry Godfrey.

Referee: James Doleman.

Important facts: The Hurricanes have won their last nine super rugby games against the Melbourne Rebels since losing their first meeting with them in March 2011 (25-42); Each of the previous 10 meetings between these two sides has been decided by a margin of 10+ points. The Hurricanes averaged 8.1 yards per carry in the season’s opening round, the highest of any team in the competition and nearly two yards more per carry than the Melbourne Rebels (6.2 m).


Moana Pasifika vs. Chiefs, 5:05 p.m

Moana Pacifica (1-15): TBC

Bosses (1-15): TBC

Referee: Angus Gardner

Important facts: This will be Moana Pasifika’s third meeting with Chiefs in Super Rugby; Chiefs have won their previous two meetings by an average margin of 40 points. Moana Pasifika has scored more than 30 points in each of her last two games in Super Rugby, having not matched that margin in any of her 13 games before.

Fijian Drua – NSW Waratahs, 7:35 p.m

Drua (1-15): TBC

Waratahs (1-15): TBC

Referee: Jordan Way

Important facts: This is the third meeting between the teams where the Tahs both win by a margin of 24+ points each. The Drua are aiming for back-to-back wins in Super Rugby for the first time since joining the competition. Drua have lost the last five games in a row against Australian teams.


Blues vs. ACT Brumbies, 2 p.m

Blues (1-15): TBC

Brumbies (1-15): TBC

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe

Important facts: The Blues have won six of their last seven games against the Brumbies, including their last three. The last two games were decided by just two and one point. But the Blues have not won back-to-back games against the Brumbies on Australian soil since 2000.

Western Force vs. QLD Reds, 4:30 p.m

Power (1-15): TBC

Red (1-15): TBC

Referee: Paul Williams

Important facts: The Reds have won four of their last five games against the Force but only enjoy a 12-10 win-loss record with a tie. The Force have won their last three matches in the comp – their longest winning streak since their five straight games in 2014. The Force fights outside of WA – and won just three of their last 16 games elsewhere in Australia. Rebels give Hosea the start, Olympian makes his debut, Highlanders make mass changes

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