Rebels lock Adam Coleman has earnt his first start of the Super Rugby season as Melbourne coach Dave Wessles named four changes to his starting XV to take on the Brumbies at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Coleman, who injured his calf in camp with the Wallabies in January, played 25 minutes off the bench in the Rebels’ win against the Highlanders last week in his first Super Rugby action of the season.
And having emerged unscathed he has been named to start on Friday as the Rebels attempt to repeat their shock round-one win against their Australian conference rivals.
Prop Matt Gibbon, hooker Robbie Abel and flanker Rob Leota were also named to make their first starts for the Rebels.
But Wessels opted against rushing Reece Hodge back into the starting side after his return from an ankle injury last week.
Gibbon has fought his way into the match-day XV after starting the pre-season without a contract but impressing Wessels with his workrate.
“Matt Gibbon is a great story, because he came over in the preseason with no contract and fought his way through in preseason and did a number of things which impressed me,” Wessels said.
“There was a moment which impressed me where he was a loosehead and we needed a tighthead in a drill pre-Christmas.
“We asked him if he could do it and most people would flinch at that, but Matt didn’t bat an eyelid and that was an indication for me that he was prepared to do whatever the team needed of him.
Coleman replaces Luke Jones in the starting side, with the 27-year-old to start off the bench as Wessels looks to manage his forwards ahead of two solid months of matches.
“In order to win Super Rugby, you need a good squad and there’s been guys who have trained and competed in the last couple of weeks who deserve a go,” Wessels said.
“Anybody who’s not at full capacity, we shouldn’t be putting in there just based on reputation.
“We need to be smart, we’ve got a run of eight games continuously, so we need to have the fresher players available all the time.”
The changes did not extend to a starting spot for Hodge though, with Wessels rewarding centres Billy Meakes and Tom English for their outstanding starts to the season.
“It’s probably just a reflection of Tom English and Billy Meakes doing a good job for us in the midfield,” Wessels said.
“Reece is the ultimate professional and we do everything we ask of him, but we want payers to feel that they have to warrant their performances at all time, so Hodgey is doing everything in his power but the other guys are working hard to keep their spots too.”
The Rebels take on the Brumbies at AAMI Park on Friday, March 8, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, live on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.
Rebels to face Brumbies:
1 Matt Gibbon
2 Robbie Abel
3 Sam Talakai
4 Matt Philip
5 Adam Coleman
6 Rob Leota
7 Brad Wilkin
8 Isi Naisarani
9 Will Genia
10 Quade Cooper
11 Marika Koroibete
12 Billy Meakes
13 Tom English
14 Jack Maddocks
15 Dane Haylett-Petty
16 Anaru Rangi
17 Tetera Faulkner
18 Jermaine Ainsley
19 Luke Jones
20 Ross Haylett-Petty
21 Richard Hardwick
22 Michael Ruru
23 Reece Hodge
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