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Rebels

Luke Burgess

Luke Burgess

Tony McGahan, Melbourne Rebels coach, has made 1 forced change to the side that defeated the Crusaders in Round 1, as the Waratahs head to AAMI Park to face the Rebels this Friday.

Scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker has been suspended for 1 week, so Wallaby Luke Burgess moves to the starting lineup and exciting 2nd-year Rebel Ben Meehan is named in the matchday 23 for the first time this year.

Whilst disappointed to lose Stirzaker, McGahan had faith in the ability of both his scrumhalves to cover the loss.

“Nic is an important player for us, but we have quality players within this position,” he said.

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Scott Higginbotham

Scott Higginbotham

A SANZAR judicial hearing has found Scott Higginbotham of the Rebels not guilty of stamping on Richie Mccaw after he was cited against the Crusaders at the weekend.

No further sanction has been imposed on the player.

The incident occurred in the 50th minute during the match between the Crusaders and Rebels at AMI Stadium in Christchurch last Friday.

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Nic Stirzaker

Nic Stirzaker

The Duty Judicial Officer has accepted an acknowledgement of breach by Nic Stirzaker of the Rebels under Law 10.4 (b) Stamping or trampling. A player must not stamp or trample an opponent.

Stirzaker was cited after a Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Rebels at AMI Stadium, Christchurch on Friday 13 February 2015.

The player has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including Sunday 22 February 2015.

The Duty Judicial Officer, Nicholas Davidson QC, assessed the case and recorded:

“I took into account that the player admitted stamping which was accepted as reckless to the point of contact.

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Melbourne RebelsUp to four players could make their Melbourne Rebels debut in Round 1 of the 2015 Super Rugby season, after Tony McGahan named the recruits in his first matchday squad for the season.

Heading to Christchurch to face the Crusaders, McGahan named Wallabies Mike Harris and Dom Shipperley in his starting lineup for their first appearance for the club, while Ben Whittaker and Sefanaia Naivalu have been named as reserves.

Whittaker signed for the club after returning to Melbourne from Biarritz, while Naivalu could make history if the former Box Hill flyer becomes the first ever player to represent the Rebels after being signed from the Dewar Shield, Victoria’s premier club rugby competition.

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HighlandersMelbourne RebelsThe Melbourne Rebels have completed their pre-season schedule with a 25 / 24 come-from-behind victory over the Highlanders in a thrilling encounter at Harlequin club in Melbourne.

For the first ever time, a Victorian Club ground hosted a Super Rugby trial – as the Highlanders, finalists last season, ventured to Holmesglen Reserve to face the Rebels.

It was a physical clash throughout, with both sides impressive with ball in hand.

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Ben Whittaker

Ben Whittaker

New signing Ben Whittaker will make his first appearance for the Rebels they host the Highlanders in a Super Rugby pre-season outing in Melbourne on Thursday.

Coach Tony McGahan named a 26-man squad for the outing at the Harlequin club.

Whittaker will be joined by Lopeti Timani, who will feature for the first time this pre-season.

McGahan said he was looking forward to the franchise’s second trial game, against strong opposition.

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Shane Christie

Shane Christie

Shane Christie will captain the Highlanders as they complete their two-match preseason tour of Australia – against the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne on Thursday.

Looking for their third win of the pre-season, the Highlanders will again employ a squad of 28 for the match.

Fumiaka Tanaka will rejoin the Highlanders for his first pre-season game, after meeting the team in Melbourne on his way back to New Zealand – following the completion of the Japanese Top League.

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Shota Horie

Shota Horie

Japanese international hooker Shota Horie will not return to the Rebels for the 2015 Super Rugby season.

Horie injured himself playing for his Japanese Top League Club, Panasonic Wild Knights, and will remain in his homeland to continue his rehabilitation ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Rebels’ Head Coach Tony McGahan was disappointed that Horie wouldn’t be returning to Melbourne.

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Melbourne RebelsThe Rebels have named a 28 man travelling squad for this Saturday’s pre-season trial against the Reds in Cairns with a possible 7 debutants.

The Rebels take on the Reds at Barlow Park in Cairns in what will be the first opportunity for both Australian teams to see what they are working with.

The Reds will be looking to test out the likes of new recruit and Wallaby James O’Connor as well as the their 2 League converts in Karmichael Hunt and Duncan Paia’aua.

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Melbourne RebelsThe Melbourne Rebels have selected a group of 5 players for their leadership group in 2015 but have delayed announcing their captain by a week.

Foundation Rebel Laurie Weeks and loose forwards Scott Fuglistaller and Scott Higginbotham retain their places from the 2014 leadership group, while Pat Leafa and Nic Stirzaker are added into the 5-man group for the first time.

Rebels’ Head Coach Tony McGahan believes the group will lead the Club with pride during the upcoming season.

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Radike Samo

Radike Samo

Wallaby and three-time Super Rugby champion, Radike Samo, will join the Melbourne Rebels for the 2015 Super Rugby season.

Samo, who moves to Melbourne from Kinetsu Liners in the Japanese Top League, has made 23 appearances for the Wallabies, and was part of the squad which finished third at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Speaking prior to moving to Melbourne, Samo said he was excited to join Tony McGahan’s group and have “one final crack at Super Rugby.”

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Super RugbyWith Super Rugby fast approaching it is important to have a look at what each of the teams are doing in their preparations and who they have at their disposal.

As the teams prepare for this brusing competition there is the oppourtunity to test out combanations as well as see how the new boys go.

The Sharks will travel to French champions Toloun to test out their game plan against the Galacticos of rugby while the Bulls will take on the Cheetahs in a traditional pre-season match in Polokwane.

The Australasian sides will also warm up against each other with the Highlanders setting up a comprehensive pre-season schedule due to the first round bye.

The ‘transfer market’ has made the upcoming Super Rugby season an exciting prospect with some big names in James O’Connor and Nick Cummins returning to Australia.

Menawhile, the Bulls have bolstered their squad with some excellent former Cheetahs players.

Finally, and unsurprizingly, Ma’a Nonu has made another move – this time back to the Hurricanes.

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Scott Higginbotham

Scott Higginbotham

Scott Higginbotham has become the latest to join a growing list of Wallabies that will head for the exit door after the World Cup this year.

The veteran back row forward, Higginbotham, confirmed on Monday that he will leave Australia after the World Cup, where he is in contention to represent Australia.

Higginbotham will take up a contract in Japan.

His departure follows on the news that James Horwill and Adam Ashley-Cooper will continue their careers in Europe beyond the 2015 World Cup.

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Super RugbyTwenty-three newly contracted Australian rugby players have gathered in Sydney for the 12 annual RUPA Induction Camp at St Andrew’s College.

In attendance are players across all five Australian Super Rugby teams and the National Sevens who have been offered their first full time or Extended Playing Squad (EPS) contract for 2015.

Last year the Camp involved players including Will Skelton, Alofa Alofa, Jack Debreczeni, Curtis Browning, Samu Kerevi and Adam Coleman.

In 2014, the camp includes five players from the Brumbies, four from the Waratahs, Rebels and Force, three from the Reds and, for the first time, three members of the women’s National Sevens squad.

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Melbourne RebelsWestern Force captain Matt Hodgson has been awarded the 2014 Nathan Sharpe Medal at the HBF Stadium in Perth yesterday.

This is the third time Hodgson has claimed the premier award, having previously received the club’s Player of the Year Award (now Nathan Sharpe Medal) in 2009 and 2010.

In the night’s other awards, crowd favourite Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins was voted the Members’ MVP; lock Adam Coleman took out the Rising Star; and Ben McCalman and Sam Wykes were joint winners of the newly named Geoffrey Stooke Award (formerly the Force Man Award).

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Tom Kingston

Tom Kingston

Bryce Hegarty

Bryce Hegarty

Scott Higginbotham

Scott Higginbotham

Melbourne Rebels outside back Tom Kingston has been ruled out of his team’s final regular Super Rugby season match against the Bulls in Pretoria afetr succumbing to an ongoing chronic knee injury.

Kingston, who has flown home from South Africa and has been battling Patella Tendinopathy throughout the duration of the season, started on the wing against the Lions on the weekend however will now head back to Melbourne to undergo further assessment before the Club are able to decide what course of action to take to repair his knee.

Young flyhalf Bryce Hegarty remains in South Africa undergoing further assessment to a shoulder injury sustained against the Lions, and remains in doubt for the season-ending clash against the Bulls.

Scott Higginbotham meanwhile was suspended for a week after receiving his 3rd Yellow Card of the season.

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Scott Higginbotham

Scott Higginbotham

Scott Higginbotham of the Rebels is to appear before a SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer after receiving a third yellow card in the 2014 season during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

According to the SANZAR Judicial Rules:

A player who has received three yellow cards (whether on or off field, or any combination thereof) arising from matches in the same Super Rugby competition shall be required to appear before the Duty Judicial Officer appointed for the match during which he last offended.

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Hugh Pyle

Hugh Pyle

Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made four changes to the starting line-up from last weekend’s 36-20 loss to the Reds, as the Rebels look for the first win on foreign soil against the Lions in Johannesburg this weekend.

Foundation Rebel Hugh Pyle returns to the starting lineup as one of three changes to the forward pack, with the recently re-signed Shota Horie and Scott Fuglistaller also injected into the contest from the outset.

In the backs, Tom Kingston comes in to the wing, while young fullback Jack Debreczeni and flyhalf Bryce Hegarty will share the initial place kicking duties with Jason Woodward on the bench.

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Shota Horie

Shota Horie

Japanese hooker Shota Horie has signed a new one-year deal with Super Rugby side Melbourne Rebels that will take him through to the Rugby World Cup next year, the club said on Wednesday.

Horie, the first Japanese player to play Super Rugby in Australia, has made 17 appearances for the team and scored his first try in April.

The 28-year-old, aiming to play his second Rugby World Cup in England in 2015, said he was happy to remain in Melbourne after welcoming baby Yoshino to his family a month ago.

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Melbourne RebelsThe Rebels have departed for South Africa, home for the final two weeks of their 2014 Super Rugby campaign.

Clashes against the Lions in Johannesburg, and the Bulls in Pretoria, will bring the curtain down on the Rebels season.

The Rebels have never won in South Africa, coming agonisingly close in bonus point defeats to the Lions and Stormers in 2012, and are determined to finish the season on a high following three consecutive disappointing defeats.

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Franco van der Merwe

Franco van der Merwe

LionsSpringbok lock forward Franco van der Merwe has recovered fully from the ankle injury that forced him to miss much of the Lions’ Super Rugby campaign, and has been drafted straight in to the starting side by head coach Johan Ackermann for Friday nights clash against the Rebels at Ellis Park.

The big Springbok’s inclusion will add some most welcome steel to the Lions second row for the clash against the team currently 1 place below the home side on the combined log.

In is a game the Johannesburg based outfit will be desperate to win before faceing the Cheetahs in their final round robin game which may well decide the Wooden Spoonists of the SA conference, Ackermann will be hoping for a dispaly at least as intense as that which saw the Lions to victory over Gauteng neighbours the Bulls just ove a month ago.

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WaratahsBrumbiesWestern ForceRedsMelbourne RebelsThe Waratahs are top of the table, three points clear of the Sharks, with guaranteed Super Rugby Finals Series qualification which sees them placed as Australia’s best hope.

The Brumbies and the Force are not out of it yet.

A win to the two-time champions against the Western Australians in Canberra will give them 44-45 points, right on the threshold of what might be the lowest mark to reach the top six.

Meanwhile the Reds and Rebels play for pride.

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Melbourne RebelsRebels head coach Tony McGahan has named exciting youngster Sean McMahon in the starting line-up and Jack Debreczeni for his run-on debut as Super Rugby returns to AAMI Park for the final time in 2014 as the Rebels host the Reds on Friday night.

Debreczeni, who has played in the Rebels previous two matches as a replacement, recently re-signed with the club and is part of a backline shuffle that also sees flyer Jason Woodward move to the right wing.

McGahan was excited to unleash the youngster from the first minute against the Reds.

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Luke Burgess

Luke Burgess

Melbourne RebelsThe return of Super Rugby down-under is timeous for the Rebels with the return of Wallaby Luke Burgess and Nic Stirzaker from injury.

Burgess, who was called up to the Wallabies camp for the French series, hobbled from the field last time the Melbourne boys played the Reds, but only after scoring two tries.

Another scrumhalf, Stirzaker, who has sustained two injuries to the same ankle in 2014, can officially wipe his name from the injury list, and will join Burgess in contention for selection this week.

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Cam Crawford

Cam Crawford

In the wake of acquiring Mike Harris and Jonah Placid, the Rebels’ recruiting drive has secured another key talent with Cam Crawford signing for the next two Super Rugby seasons.

The 25-year-old had to make it to Super Rugby the hard way, with a number of injuries preventing him from making a long-awaited debut until the 2012 season.

Playing for the Brumbies, Crawford featured in one Super Rugby game and also against the touring Welsh.

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Hurricanes

Jason Woodward

Jason Woodward

Jason Woodward will leave the Rebels at season’s end after agreeing terms on a two-year deal to return home and represent the Hurricanes.

Woodward will return to New Zealand, where he will attempt to fulfil his childhood ambition and represent his country as an All Black.

Woodward said although he would be leaving Melbourne with a heavy heart, returning home to be part of the Hurricanes club was an offer he couldn’t turn down.

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Pat Leafa

Pat Leafa

Rebels Hooker Pat Leafa has committed his future to the club, signing a deal which will see him remain in Melbourne until the end of the 2016 season.

Leafa was born in Auckland, however will qualify to represent Australia if selected as of January 2015. The popular hooker joined the Rebels from the Brumbies’ Academy and the Canberra club competition as a member of the Extended Playing Squad (EPS) in 2012, managing two appearances as he patiently waited behind Ged Robinson and Shota Horie in the pecking order.

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