Melbourne Rebels v Western Force - Super Rugby match preview
An Australian derby between the Melbourne Rebels and the Western Force will kick-start the new Super Rugby season.
Last Updated: 15/02/13 10:34am
History is set to be made in the encounter, with Shota Horie set to become the first Japanese player to play in the competition after the hooker was named on the Rebels bench.
The Melbourne franchise, who will be skippered by former Wales international Gareth Delve this season, have also handed debuts to former Force centre Rory Sidey and Australia back-rower Scott Higginbotham. Nick Stirzaker, Alex Rokobaro, Tom English and Cadeyrn Neville are also included on the bench.
Kurtley Beale gets the first round out at No 10, with James O'Connor named at full-back - however the exciting Jason Woodward misses out through injury.
After a summer of surgeon on and off the field, there is a new look to the Western Force line-up.
Having finished bottom of the Australian Conference last season, the Force have brought in coach Michael Foley and a host of new players.
Sam Christie will make his Super Rugby debut at fly-half after he made the switch from Waikato and he will be partnered at half-back by fellow New Zealander and off-season signing Alby Mathewson.
The highly-rated Chris Alcock is handed the coveted No 7 shirt that was previously worn by David Pocock, while former Rebels hooker Heath Tessmann and ex Cheetahs No 10 Sias Ebersohn are named on the bench.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Richard Kingi, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nic Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo Emile, 18 Cadeyrn Neville, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Nick Stirzaker, 21 Alex Rokobaro, 22 Tom English.
Western Force: 15 Will Tupou, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 Sam Christie, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Toby Lynn, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan (c).
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Phoenix Battye, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Mick Snowden, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Junior Rasolea.