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- 4th May 2012
- KO 09:40
Rebels v Bulls: Teams
At AAMI Stadium, Friday May 4, kick-off 10.40am, watch online on Sky Sports Xtra
Former Wallabies centre Stirling Mortlock will play his first Super Rugby game of the season via the Rebels bench in Friday's hit-out against the Bulls at AAMI Park.
The veteran midfielder has been sidelined with an ongoing calf injury, but is now set to ease himself back into action after being named on the Melbourne side's teamsheet as a replacement.
"It's been very frustrating because the calf hasn't allowed me to even get out on the pitch and even train, let alone play," Mortlock told AAP.
"I'm really looking forward to getting out on the paddock for the next month or so and that'll give me a good opportunity to work out what to do next."
Despite the obvious match fitness concerns, Mortlock's return could not come at a better time for the personnel-challenged Rebels.
It provides some respite in a week during which Danny Cipriani made a shock exit, Jarrod Saffy was lost for the season with a neck injury and James O'Connor was ruled out for several weeks with liver damage.
Star recruit Kurtley Beale will play at fly-half, while Mitch Inman slots into outside centre and Cooper Vuna starts on the wing for the match against the in-form Bulls.
Julian Huxley will cover at full-back.
Rebels coach Damien Hill has also made several changes to his forward pack as a result of injury concerns, with Cadeyrn Neville coming in at lock while Luke Jones and Tim Davidson take their places on the side of the scrum.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has included fit-again forwards Flip van der Merwe and Dean Greyling in his starting XV.
Van der Merwe last played against the Crusaders in week seven of the competition where he injured his groin and will replace Wilhelm Steenkamp at lock.
Steenkamp moves to the bench where he replaces England-bound Gerrit-Jan van Velze from the team that beat the Brumbies in their previous encounter two weeks ago.
In another swap, Greyling moves back into the number one jersey, with Dawie Steyn, who debuted against the Brumbies, missing out altogether.
On the bench, Willie Wepener is also back in the fray, replacing Bongo Mbonambi.
The veteran hooker last played in week four against the Reds and was unavailable for selection due to his facial nerves being infected.
The same backline that played in the Bulls 36-34 victory over the Brumbies two weeks ago, will front again.
Deon Stegmann was close to selection, but Bulls coach Frans Ludeke felt that the specialist fetcher needs some time on the training paddock first to get into the team patterns again.
"We need to start well and everyone is aware of that," said Ludeke.
"The Rebels are one of those teams who refuse to go away and we will need to play for 80 minutes to beat them. We have travelled well and in good spirits, so we are keen to play."
Bulls captain Pierre Spies admitted to an air of expectancy in the camp.
"This is a new venue for us and the importance of getting the tour under way with a positive performance makes everyone very keen to get out there," said the Bok number eight.
"The Rebels challenges you with good scrambling defence and have playmakers all round, so we need to focus on our strengths for this one."
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Julian Huxley, 14 Mark Gerrard, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Lachlan Mitchell, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Tim Davidson, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Rod Blake, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Jono Owen, 18 Al Campbell, 19 Ryan Hodson, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 James Hilgendorf, 22 Stirling Mortlock.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Juandre Kruger, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Johann Sadie.
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|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
|15:05||Cheetahs vs Bulls|
|17:10||Stormers vs Sharks|
|Friday 13th March|
|06:35||Hurricanes vs Blues|
|11:00||Western Force vs Melbourne Rebels|
|Saturday 14th March|
|03:30||Crusaders vs Lions|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Waratahs|
|08:40||Reds vs Brumbies|
|13:00||Stormers vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Cheetahs vs Sharks|
|Friday 20th March|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Hurricanes|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Lions|
|Saturday 21st March|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Cheetahs|
|15:05||Bulls vs Western Force|
|17:10||Sharks vs Chiefs|
|Sunday 22nd March|
|05:05||Waratahs vs Brumbies|
|Friday 27th March|
|06:35||Hurricanes vs Melbourne Rebels|
|09:00||Reds vs Lions|
|Saturday 28th March|
|05:30||Chiefs vs Cheetahs|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Stormers|
|08:40||Waratahs vs Blues|
|15:05||Sharks vs Western Force|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Lions 19 - 22 Stormers|
|Bulls 43 - 35 Sharks|
|Melbourne Rebels 15 - 20 Brumbies|
|Chiefs 40 - 16 Crusaders|
|Friday 27th February|
|Cheetahs 25 - 24 Blues|
|Western Force 13 - 42 Hurricanes|
|Highlanders 20 - 13 Reds|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Sharks 29 - 12 Lions|
|Stormers 27 - 16 Blues|
|Reds 18 - 6 Western Force|
|Highlanders 20 - 26 Crusaders|
|Friday 20th February|
|Bulls 13 - 17 Hurricanes|
|Melbourne Rebels 28 - 38 Waratahs|
|Chiefs 19 - 17 Brumbies|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Waratahs 13 - 25 Western Force|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Bulls 17 - 29 Stormers|
|Sharks 29 - 35 Cheetahs|
|Blues 18 - 23 Chiefs|
|Friday 13th February|
|Lions 8 - 22 Hurricanes|
|Brumbies 47 - 3 Reds|
|Crusaders 10 - 20 Melbourne Rebels|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com