The Melbourne Rebels have kept the faith with their starting XV, naming only one change to the side which defeated the Queensland Reds by 19 points.
Jermaine Ainsley has been selected at tighthead prop, replacing Vice Captain Sam Talakai, who has been rested for the match.
Four changes have been made in the replacements, with Pone Fa’amausili, Semisi Tupou and Ross Haylett-Petty all in line to gain minutes, while new recruit Hugh Roach could potentially make his Club debut after 41 appearances with the Waratahs.
Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Dave Wessels says the addition of Wallaby-Capped Ainsley to the starting side is well deserved after the prop’s hard work during the season.
“I think Jermaine has really deserved his chance,” Wessels said.
“He was actually going to start in one of the previous games but got some gastro and was ruled out of the game.”
Wessels’ excitement towards Ainsley’s promotion to the stating XV was also prevalent when speaking about Victorian product Pone Fa’amausili and his return to the replacements.
The Head Coach believes Fa’amausili has the ability to provide real competition for the tight head role spot, with Wessels saying the 22-year-old has the potential to be a big part of the Club’s forward pack in the future.
“We’ve got some real competition for that position now, with guys like Pone Fa’amausili, who played earlier in the season,” Wessels said.
“He’s only a young guy, but he’s going to be a big part of our club going forward, so I’m looking forward to seeing his performance off the bench as well.
With Melbourne sitting top of the Australian Conference heading into Saturday night’s fixture against the Sunwolves, Wessels is adamant the Japanese side are better than what their 2-5 ledger suggests.
With that belief in mind, Wessels says he the Club has put their best possible side forward in a game which could help Melbourne further solidify their standing in the Australian Conference.
“The Sunwolves are a very good side,” Wessels said.
“They’re obviously well coached and look at the quality in their back row.
“It’s a huge challenge for us, so we’ve put, what we’ve considered to be our best team at the present time on the field.”
Rebels Match Day 23 v Sunwolves, Saturday 6 April, kick off 7:45pm (EDT)
Ins: Pone Fa’amausili, Semisi Tupou, Ross Haylett-Petty, Hugh Roach
Outs: Sione Tuipulotu, Robbie Abel, Sam Talakai, Esei Ha’angana
1. Tetera Faulkner
2. Anaru Rangi
3. Jermaine Ainsley
4. Matt Philip
5. Adam Coleman
6. Luke Jones
7. Angus Cottrell
8. Isi Naisarani
9. Will Genia
10. Quade Cooper
11. Marika Koroibete
12. Billy Meakes
13. Tom English
14. Jack Maddocks
15. Reece Hodge
16. Hugh Roach
17. Matt Gibbon
18. Pone Fa’amausili
19. Ross Haylett-Petty
20. Rob Leota
21. Michael Ruru
22. Campbell Magnay
23. Semisi Tupou