The Melbourne Rebels will enter Saturday afternoon’s crucial clash against the Highlanders welcoming back a plethora of international experience, with lock Matt Philip named for his first match of 2023.
The hulking Wallaby has successfully recovered from an ACL injury suffered during last year’s international Test season back in October.
Philip’s selection will provide the Rebels with plenty of leadership, toughness and grit, and will strengthen the team’s line-out and ball carrying capabilities.
The lock’s inclusion is one of four changes to last week’s starting XV, with Stacey Ili and Lukas Ripley combining at centre, while Reece Hodge replaces the injured Carter Gordon at 10.
Speaking to the media earlier this week, winger Lachie Anderson said the Rebels were raring to go for the important Trans-Tasman clash.
"We've reviewed hard and taken our learnings from last week, so there's a real good feeling in the group and we had a great training session on Tuesday, so we're looking ahead to the Highlanders with excitement,” said Anderson.
"We're playing a really great attacking style of rugby this year and we're really enjoying that.
"We're just looking to the Highlanders this week, and we're going there to win and that’s what the group is excited about and focused on."
Reece Hodge will become the most-capped player in Melbourne Rebels history when he plays his 98th Super Rugby match.
After making his debut against the Western Force in Perth in 2016, the twenty-eight-year-old has become a stalwart of the Melbourne Rebels.
Hodge has played a crucial role in the Club strengthening its connection with the Victorian community, while also scoring 547 points over eight-seasons and representing the Wallabies 62 times.
The Rebels have won three of the last four Super meetings between the two sides and will be returning to Dunedin for the first time since 2020’s thrilling 28-22 win over the Highlanders.
Melbourne Rebels Match Day 23 vs Highlanders
- Matt Gibbon
- Alex Mafi
- Sam Talakai
- Josh Canham
- Matt Philip
- Vaiolini Ekuasi
- Brad Wilkin ( C )
- Richard Hardwick
- Ryan Louwrens
- Reece Hodge
- Monty Ioane
- Stacey Ili
- Lukas Ripley
- Lachlan Anderson
- Andrew Kellaway
- Jordan Uelese
- Isaac Aedo Kailea
- Pone Fa'amausili
- Trevor Hosea
- Tamati Ioane
- James Tuttle
- Nick Jooste
- Joe Pincus