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Melbourne Rebels

  • Super Rugby
  • Overall Group
  • 21st Mar 2014
  • KO 08:40
  • Ground: Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Super Rugby: The Waratahs host the Rebels at Allianz Stadium on Friday

Last updated: 20th March 2014   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Nick Phipps

Nick Phipps: Takes on his old club for the first time in Super Rugby

Will Skelton

Will Skelton: Returns at lock for the Waratahs

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The Waratahs will be aiming to get back to winning ways when they host the Rebels at Allianz Stadium on Friday.

Following two bonus point home wins, Michael Cheika's side went down to a narrow 28-23 defeat at the Brumbies last time.

Cheika has made four changes to the starting line-up as his side bid to return the Weary Dunlop Shield to Sydney.

Sekope Kepu will start at loosehead prop while Will Skelton returns at lock, pushing Jacques Potgieter to flanker and Dave Dennis to No. 8.

Benn Robinson slips back to the bench to allow Wallaby prop Kepu his first run on start of 2014.

"I just wanted to try this combination," Cheika told the franchise's official website.

"I thinks Keps has played well and was unlucky to miss out in the first place. He's done what he needs to do to force his way back in the side."

Kepu packs down alongside Paddy Ryan and hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, who will become the sixth most capped NSW player in history when he takes to the field on Friday night.

In the reshuffled pack, Skelton will join Kane Douglas at lock, while the back row will comprise blindside flanker Potgieter, Michael Hooper, who earns his 50th Super Rugby cap at openside, and skipper Dave Dennis at No 8.

History

If he comes on from the bench, Wycliff Palu will earn his 99th NSW state cap.

"We've got to make sure we use Cliff correctly and he'll definitely contribute at the back end of the game," Cheika added.

Scrum-half Nick Phipps takes on his old club for the first time in Super Rugby, since joining the Waratahs at the start of this season.

Bernard Foley will wear the 10 jersey and Kurtley Beale, also lining up against his old club, will start at inside centre. Adam Ashley-Cooper is at outside centre and the back three of Peter Betham, Alofa Alofa and Israel Folau remains unchanged.

The Rebels have named two Japanese players in their matchday squad - making Super Rugby history in the process.

Shota Horie is joined on the bench by compatriot Male Sau - with head coach Tony McGahan making two changes to the starting line-up following their 25-19 loss to the Crusaders.

Jason Woodward and Laurie Weeks are both ruled out through injury so Angus Roberts and Paul Alo-Emile coming into the line-up.

Tom Kingston and Cruze Ah-Nau also come into the squad, joining Horie and Sau on the bench.

Waratahs: 15 Folau, 14 Alofa, 13 Ashley-Cooper, 12 Beale, 11 Betham, 10 Foley, 9 Phipps, 1 Kepu, 2 Polota-Nau, 3 Ryan, 4 Skelton, 5 Douglas, 6 Potgieter, 7 Hooper, 8 Dennis.
Replacements: 16 Latu, 17 Tilse, 18 Robinson, 19 Palu, 20 Hoiles, 21 McKibbin, 22 Horne, 23 Carraro, 24 McCutcheon, 25 Lance.

Rebels: 15 Roberts, 14 Mitchell, 13 Ellison, 12 Inman, 11 English, 10 Hegarty, 9 Burgess, 1 Smith, 2 Leafa, 3 Alo-Emile, 4 Pyle, 5 Jones, 6 McMahon, 7 Fuglistaller, 8 Higginbotham (c).
Replacements: 16 Horie, 17 Lahiff, 18 Ah-Nau, 19 Neville, 20 Fainga'a, 21 Meehan, 22 Sa'u, 23 Kingston.

You can see all the action from Sydney as the Waratahs take on the Rebels live on Sky Sports 4HD from 8.30am on Friday.

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Phil Edwards

Phil Edwards

Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com