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Melbourne Rebels

Melbourne RebelsRebels head coach Tony McGahan has made four changes to his starting line-up for Friday’s match against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Following the club’s 32-24 victory over the Brumbies, Colby Fainga’a has failed to recover from a hip injury and will be replaced in the back row by Sean McMahon, while Tom Kingston continues to follow concussion protocols and will not be considered for selection this week.

Japanese international Male Sau replaces Kingston on the right wing, with Jordy Reid and Alex Rokobaro injected into the match day squad as reserves for the first time in 2014.

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Super RugbyThe Cell C Sharks continued to stamp their authority in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition this weekend as they secured their fifth victory of the season, while the Vodacom Bulls allowed a fourth successive victory to slip through their fingers and the DHL Stormers stumbled in their final tour match.

A strong second-half showing by the Cell C Sharks combined with a flawless kicking performance by flyhalf Fred Zeilinga, who punished the Waratahs indiscipline, earned the team a 32-10 victory at Growthpoint Kings Park.

The victory allowed the team to remain in pole position on the combined log table.

The Vodacom Bulls, meanwhile, had their fourth consecutive victory in their sights until the last minute of their clash against defending champions, the Chiefs, at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, but a last-minute try by Chiefs captain Aaron Cruden and successful conversion by Gareth Anscombe forced them to settle for a disappointing 34-34 draw.

The team departs for their Australasian tour knowing that their defence, in particular, needs attention after allowing a 31-15 lead to slip against the Chiefs.

In Brisbane, the DHL Stormers were unsuccessful in their mission to complete their Australasian tour with a victory against the Reds as they went down 22-17 following defeats against the Crusaders, Chiefs and Brumbies.

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Jason WoodwardMelbourne RebelsThe Melbourne Rebels have named their Super Rugby team to play the Brumbies at AAMI Park in Melbourne with Jason Woodward and Nic Stirzaker returning to the starting line up.

Jason Woodward has overcome a bruised knee to return after missing one week and is named to start as fullback, while Tom Kingston will start after a knee injury bought a premature end to Foundation Rebel Lachlan Mitchell’s season.

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Kurtley BealeWaratahs star Kurtley Beale admits he has extra motivation for the game against the Rebels on Friday – the team that got rid of him last year.

While Beale says his rematch against his old side does mean more to him than a regular Super Rugby match, he vowed not to get caught up in settling scores with the Rebels.

The 39-cap Wallaby says he’s moved on from being released by the Rebels, and expects his former teammates have done the same.

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WaratahsThe Waratahs have made four changes to their starting forward pack for this Friday’s home clash against the Melbourne Rebels in Sydney.

Coach Michael Cheika has selected Sekope Kepu to start at loosehead prop. New South Wale’s biggest ever player, Will Skelton, returns at lock, pushing Jacques Potgieter to flank 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.

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Western ForceThe Western Force have named captain Matt Hodgson to become the first player to represent the franchis in 100 Super Rugby matches when they host the Rebels at the ‘Force Field’ (nib Stadium) on Saturday.

Hodgson started at openside flanker in the Force’s inaugural match against the Brumbies in 2006, and has played in 99 of the club’s 115 matches over the past nine seasons.

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Melbourne RebelsRebels head coach Tony McGahan has made six changes to the team that beat the Cheetahs in their Super Rugby opener for this week’s clash against the Western Force at nib Stadium in Perth on Saturday.

Third-year Rebels second rower Cadeyrn Neville replaces Luke Jones and Max Lahiff is named for his first Melbourne Rebels start alongside Pat Leafa and Paul Alo-Emile in a new-look front row.

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Super RugbyThe Australian and New Zealand teams start Super Rugby a week later than their South African rivals and the Australian teams kick the season off with a match in Canberra between two former Champions, the Brumbies and the Reds.

Here we take a brief look at the Australian teams and what could lie ahead for the Australian Super Rugby franchises.

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Melbourne RebelsRebels coach Tony McGahan has named four trial teams to play against the Waratahs in a Super Rugby warm up match to be held in Albury.

The match is the Rebels first trial match of the 2014 pre-season and with temperatures predicted to soar over 40 degrees, the match will be played in quarters and will feature nearly the entire Rebels squad, as well as two trialists.

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Super RugbySuper Rugby teams will step up their preparations for the upcoming season and shake off some rust in pre-season friendlies in the coming weeks.

Preparing for the gruelling Super Rugby tournament, which gets underway on 15 February and culminates on 2 August, is not an exact science.

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Melbourne RebelsRebel Cadeyrn Neville can’t help but feel encouraged by a squad that appears to be clicking ahead of the 2014 Super Rugby season.

The popular big lock, who has now almost completed his third pre-season at the franchise, believes that new coach Tony McGahan’s transition into life in Melbourne has been seamless, and that the players have enjoyed an arduous and challenging stint under McGahan thus far.

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