Rebels name a strong side for Drua match

Rebels name a strong side for Drua match

The Melbourne Rebels will continue their build towards the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season as they name a host of Wallabies for Friday's trial against the Fijian Drua in Melbourne.

Coach Kevin Foote has announced a near full-strength side as they turn their focus towards the on-field action before next week's opening game against the ACT Brumbies.

Wallabies backrower Rob Leota will captain the side, named at number eight in a forward pack that includes Wallabies Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Josh Kemeny.

It will be Tupou's first start in Rebels colours after coming off the bench against the Waratahs at the start of the month.

Carter Gordon will start at flyhalf, coming off the back of his breakout 2023 season.

New recruits Matt Proctor and Filipo Daugunu will start in the backline whilst Andrew Kellaway returns to fullback.

Wallabies Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai and Sevens star Darby Lancaster are amongst the talent slated to come off the bench during the hit-out.

“I think everyone’s excited to kick off and having that first game at home against the Brumbies who are a great outfit in front of home fans as well will be awesome," Leota said.

The Drua have likewise named a host of World Cup talent after Fiji's magic run to the quarter-finals.

Iosefi Masi, Tevita Ikanivere, Selestino Ravutaumada and Frank Lomani return to the starting line-up before they face the Blues in Whangārei.

Lomani is joined in the halves by young gun Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, who will press his claims to start with Caleb Muntz on the sidelines.

Friday 16 February: Rebels vs. Drua - 4.30pm AEDT - Gosch's Paddock, Melbourne

REBELS (1-15): Matt Gibbon, Alex Mafi, Taniela Tupou, Josh Canham, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin, Rob Leota (c), Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Glen Vaihu, David Feliuai, Matt Proctor, Filipo Daugunu, Andrew Kellaway

Reserves: Issac Kailea, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai, Angelo Smith, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Daniel Maivaia, Maciu Nabolakasi, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Jack Maunder, James Tuttle, Jake Strachan, Darby Lancaster, Nick Jooste, David Vaihu, Lukas Ripley, Lachie Anderson, Mason Gordon, Ethan Dobbins, Cabous Eloff, Kohan Herbert.

DRUA (1-15): Emosi Tuqiri, Tevita Ikanivere, Mesake Doge, Isoa Nasilasila, Mesake Vocevoce, Etonia Waqa, Elia Canakaivata, Meli Derenlagi (c), Frank Lomani, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Selestino Ravutaumada, Apisalome Vota, Iosefo Masi, Epeli Momo, Ilaisa Droasese

Reserves: Mesulame Dolokoto, Livai Natave, Samuela Tawake, Vilive Miramira, Motikiai Murray, Simione Kuruvoli, Kemu Valetini, Peni Matawalu, Waqa Nalaga, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, Isikeli Rabitu, Zuriel Togiatama, Jone Koroiduadua

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