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  • Super Rugby
  • Overall Group
  • 2nd May 2014
  • KO 10:40
  • Ground: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Super Rugby preview: Rebels host competition leaders Sharks at AAMI Park this Friday

Last updated: 1st May 2014   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Frans Steyn kicking for Sharks in Super Rugby

Frans Steyn: Starts at fly-half for the Sharks

Luke Burgess Rebels v Crusaders SR 2014

Luke Burgess: Wallaby scrum-half starts for the Rebels

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The Rebels host competition leaders Sharks at AAMI Park this Friday in the first game of the visitors' four-match Australasian tour.

The Sharks head to Melbourne on the back of just their second loss of the season last week, a shock 34-18 defeat against the Highlanders in Durban.

However, Rebels head coach Tony McGahan is focused more on his squad and how they approach this match having had a bye over the ANZAC Day weekend.

"We are ready for the challenges posed by the Sharks," he said.

"It's great to be through the first half of the season; the guys have been really keen and enthusiastic at training over the last few days to start the second half of the season, and most importantly this block now of five games which kicks off with playing the number one side in Super Rugby at this point in time. The guys are really looking forward to the challenge, and being back at home."

McGahan has injected Wallaby scrum-half Luke Burgess into the Rebels' starting lineup, believing his experience and physicality will be an asset against the competition leaders.

Burgess' introduction from the outset is one of only two changes to the side which beat the Western Force 22-16 two weeks ago, with prop Cruze Ah-Nau promoted to his first Super Rugby start as Toby Smith misses out with a shoulder injury.

"We're looking for a change in dynamics this weekend as we play the Sharks who have such a big physical pack," McGahan added.

"Luke has a strong kicking game from nine, and we'll need the physicality around the ruck and in attack and defence that Luke can certainly bring.

"Nic Stirzaker has done a fantastic job for us, starting the last five games, and there is a big difference between starting games and finishing games; there's a different skillset required. Nic has given us a great platform, and Luke has been terrific adding enthusiasm, speed and consistency when he has come on in the latter stages; Nic gets the opportunity to do that this week."

Sharks changes

For the Sharks, head coach Jake White has named Frans Steyn at fly-half, replacing Tim Swiel, while Heimar Williams steps in at inside centre alongside Paul Jordaan for their tour opener.

In other changes to the side that started against the Highlanders last week, Jean Deysel and Bismarck du Plessis are back from niggles.

"We want to bounce back," explained White.

"It doesn't matter who it is, it's not the Rebels we're targeting. When we lost to the Bulls, we won the next game against the Waratahs. This week we need to make sure that regardless of who we're playing, we need to be better than we were last week to get a result.

"We must remember that although we beat them comfortably last year in Durban, we're playing them in Melbourne, they are a good team playing at home They've picked up some good wins this year, they beat the Brumbies in Melbourne.

"We want to get our tour off to a good start and take momentum through the tour and in order to do that we need to get a win in the first game."

You can see all the action from AAMI Park live on Sky Sports 2HD from 10.30am.

Rebels: 15 Woodward, 14 Sau, 13 Ellison, 12 Inman, 11 English, 10 Hegarty, 9 Burgess; 1 Ah-Nau, 2 Horie, 3 Weeks, 4 Neville, 5 Jones, 6 Fainga'a, 7 Fuglistaller, 8 Scott (c).
Replacements: 16 Leafa, 17 Lahiff,18 Alo-Emilie, 19 Pyle, 20 McMahon, 21 Stirzaker, 22 Kingston, 23 Roberts.

Sharks: 15 Mvovo, 14 Ndungane, 13 Jordaan, 12 Williams, 11 Pietersen, 10 Steyn, 9 McLeod; 1 Mtawarira, 2 B du Plessis (c), 3 J du Plessis, 4 Alberts, 5 Lewies, 6 Coetzee, 7 Deysel, 8 Kankowski.
Replacements: 16 Cooper, 17 Chadwick, 18 Adriaanse, 19 Oosthuizen, 20 Daniel, 21 Reinach, 22 Zeilinga, 23 Marais.

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Friday 13th February
Super Rugby
06:35Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels
08:40Brumbies vs Reds
17:10Lions vs Hurricanes
Saturday 14th February
06:35Blues vs Chiefs
15:05Sharks vs Cheetahs
17:05Bulls vs Stormers
Sunday 15th February
06:05Waratahs vs Western Force
Friday 20th February
06:35Chiefs vs Brumbies
08:40Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs
17:10Bulls vs Hurricanes
Saturday 21st February
06:35Highlanders vs Crusaders
08:40Reds vs Western Force
15:05Stormers vs Blues
17:10Sharks vs Lions
Friday 27th February
06:35Highlanders vs Reds
11:00Western Force vs Hurricanes
17:10Cheetahs vs Blues
Saturday 28th February
06:35Chiefs vs Crusaders
08:40Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies
15:05Bulls vs Sharks
17:10Lions vs Stormers
Friday 6th March
06:35Chiefs vs Highlanders
08:40Brumbies vs Western Force
Saturday 7th March
06:35Blues vs Lions
08:40Reds vs Waratahs

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