The teams for Round four of Super Rugby Au are in with the Melbourne Rebels facing off against the Waratahs with the Western Force hosting the Brumbies.
Victorian second-rower Trevor Hosea has been elevated into the Melbourne Rebels starting XV ahead of their Round 4 match-up against bitter rivals the NSW Waratahs. The Junior Wallaby prodigy has made the most of his two appearances off the bench this season to warrant selection in a match that could prove critical for the Rebels season.
Cameron Orr also comes into the starting XV at the expense of Matt Gibbon, whilst Reece Hodge is elevated back into the starting XV after being handed the number 13 jersey. Campbell Magnay will miss the match after taking a knock at training leaving the Rebels with a 6/2 split bench.
Meanwhile, the Waratahs have made a host of changes to their bench with Jake Gordon headlining the inclusions returning from a hamstring injury. Tom Horton maintains his place in the starting side after scoring his first try in Super Rugby in Round 3, while Joey Walton will continue in midfield alongside Karmichael Hunt.
Another potential Super rugby AU debutant joins the bench, with Joe Cotton named in place of Robbie Abel. He joins Junior Wallaby teammates Ben Donaldson and Mark Nawaqanitawase on the reserves.
What the coaches said:
Melbourne Rebels Assistant Coach Kevin Foote: “I’m very proud of those Victorian boys who’ve come through the system and I’m very excited for Trev [Trevor Hosea].
“I spoke to him in the lift and he had spoken to his parents and he had almost gotten quite tearful, so I think it means a hell of a lot to him and his family back home"
“I think the Waratahs are actually doing really well. I think Rob Penny came out of that isolation and really got his roots in with the team and I think they’re doing well and really getting better and better.
“They’re playing a brave style of rugby and some of these guys making their debuts that are not scared to let the ball go, so I think they’re actually playing a really good style.
“From a defence point of view, we’ve got to understand how they want to play and we’re going to have to shut them down, but it’s always been a tight contest and I’m really looking forward to Friday night.
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Former All Black lock Jeremy Thrush will lead the Force when the team faces the ACT Brumbies in the Super Rugby AU round 4 clash at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney’s inner west this Saturday.
The veteran second-rower’s promotion to captain comes as the Force make four changes to their match squad, including the sidelining of regular skipper Ian Prior through injury. Prior’s place at scrumhalf will be taken by Wallaby Nick Frisby, who joined the Force earlier this month after several seasons in the UK, most recently with the Glasgow Warriors. In another change to the starting XV, inside centre Henry Taefu is promoted to the starting line-up in place of Nick Jooste, who drops out of the match 23 this week.
Frisby spent five seasons with the Queensland Reds, earning 66 Super Rugby caps, before moving to the UK. Taefu, meanwhile, returns to the starting line-up after being on the bench for the clashes against the Waratahs and the Reds. He has played a crucial role for the Force over the past two seasons, as well as representing Samoa in the 2019 World Cup, and will add a physical edge in the Force midfield. There are two changes on the bench where former All Black Richard Kahui, who signed for the Force last week, and young prop Tom Sheminant have been brought into the match 23.
Powerhouse winger Solomone Kata will suit up for the Brumbies for the first time in Super Rugby AU when the side takes on the Western Force at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday. Bayley Kuenzle will wear the number 10 jersey for the first time after steering the team to their gritty win over the Waratahs last weekend.
Wallabies prop Scott Sio starts for the first time in the new competition and will partner fellow Test players Allan Alaalatoa and Folau Fainga'a in the front three. Promising youngster Nick Frost will make his first appearance in the run on side, packing down next to Murray Douglas in the second row.
Will Miller will join Rob Valetini and Pete Samu in a familiar backrow with Joe Powell to partner Kuenzle in their first outing as a halves pair. Irae Simone and Tevita Kuridrani will combine again in the midfield with Tom Banks, Tom Wright and Kata the back three. Connal McInerney is the replacement hooker, while Canberra local Harry Lloyd is set to see game time against his former club as the replacement loosehead, with versatile James Slipper set to swap sides of the scrum as the tighthead finisher.
The recently returned Ben Hyne will be back in Brumbies colours for the first time since July 2017, with Lachlan McCaffrey to provide experience in the late stages of the match. Last weekend's match winner and former Force scrumhalf Issak Fines will again provide spark off the pine with Mack Hansen and Andy Muirhead rounding out the matchday 23.
What the coaches said:
Western Force assistant coach Matt Hodgson on Richard Kahui: “It’s not just his on-field exploits that we’re excited about, as his insight and winning mentality are sure to prove invaluable for the entire team,” Hodgson said.
“His knowledge of the game, defensive ability and the level of professionalism he brings to training will be huge for our season.”
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said: "It's great to have Sol back in the team, he had a solid start to the year and he's chomping at the bit to contribute on Saturday night."
"We're really excited to see BK in the number 10 jersey, he's been a part of our system for a while now and he did a good job there for us last weekend.
"Frosty's been training the house down all year and he's really earned his first start and I'm sure he'll deliver against a really good Force outfit on Saturday night."