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Rebels

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Dom Shipperley

Dom Shipperley

Melbourne Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has re-introduced Sam Jeffries and Dom Shipperley into the squad, as he named his team to face the Waratahs at ANZ Stadium on Saturday in a clash which will commemorate the centenary of the Anzac landing.

Wallaby Shipperley returns to the starting line-up, while his Melbourne University teammate in second rower Sam Jeffries replacing Luke Jones in the squad, with Cadeyrn Neville elevated to start.

Jones developed concussion symptoms after the win in Canberra against the Brumbies last weekend, and the Rebels have opted to leave him out of the team as a precautionary method.

McGahan said that it was pleasing to be able to draw upon players with match fitness and form when changes were made.

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Toby Smith

Toby Smith

Loosehead prop Toby Smith has signed a new contract with the Melbourne Rebels keeping him at the club until 2017.

The former Chiefs prop joined the Rebels in 2014 and has impressed since moving to Australia after winning the Super Rugby title with the Chiefs.

And he has now extended his stay for a further 2 seasons, with the Rebels currently enjoying their best season since joining Super Rugby.

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Super RugbyThe DHL Stormers finished their Australasian tour with a 2nd win while the Vodacom Bulls consolidated their position at the Top of the South African Conference as Vodacom Super Rugby 2015 entered the 2nd half of the season.

However, the Toyota Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks both lost at home as the teams from Pretoria and Cape Town opened up a bit of a gap in the local conference and the Vodacom Bulls moved up to 2nd on the overall log.

The DHL Stormers were made to work hard for a scrappy win in Perth on Saturday afternoon as they defeated the struggling Western Force by 13 / 6, the only 5-pointer of the encounter a Penalty Try to the visitors after yet another superb scrum. The win concluded their best Australasian tour in 3 years.

Back home, the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks delivered a typically hard local derby in Durban with the 3-time champions from Pretoria ultimately winning by 17 / 10, with each team scoring a solitary try.

The Toyota Cheetahs unfortunately could not build on their good win in Perth last weekend when they were beaten by 18 / 17 by the Reds in Bloemfontein.

Down Under, the defending champions – the Waratahs and the Chiefs recorded impressive victories in Wellington and Christchurch respectively.

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Michael Cheika - Wallabies coach

Michael Cheika – Wallabies coach

The Australian conference’s struggles in Super Rugby has alarm bells ringing Down Under, where media pundits have condemned the nation’s lack of playing depth in a Rugby World Cup year.

4 Of Australia’s teams, including the reigning champion Waratahs, are mired in the bottom 6 of the 15-team southern hemisphere competition halfway through the season.

The 5th, Canberra-based Brumbies, are 2nd but battling to hold ground against New Zealand and South African rivals amid a mounting injury toll.

The conference’s solid performance last season, when the Waratahs broke through for their maiden title and the Brumbies reached the semi-finals, was hailed as a sign of the increasing depth of Australian rugby.

Those achievements have been quickly forgotten, with the Melbourne Rebels, Reds and Western Force conjuring a total of 5 wins between them from the opening 9 Rounds.

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Laurie Weeks

Laurie Weeks

Laurie Weeks has avoided surgery after injuring his knee in Friday’s loss to the Hurricanes, however the foundation Rebel will be sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks after scans confirmed a fracture of his left tibial plateau.

The news was bitter-sweet for the club, pleased he had avoided a season-ending injury but also disappointed to lose Laurie for an extended period.

“We call Laurie ‘Mr Rebel’,” Head of Athletic Performance Bryce Cavanagh explained. “He is a wonderful, positive influence on the group, and his experience is invaluable; we’ll miss that on the field.

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Melbourne RebelsMelbourne Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made several changes to his starting 15 for Friday’s clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Rebels centre Mitch Inman becomes the 5th player to play 50 matches for the franchise, while co-captain Scott Higginbotham makes his 100th Super Rugby appearance.

Tighthead prop Laurie Weeks will also overtake former player Hugh Pyle as the most-capped player in the franchise’s history, moving to 59 Rebels caps.

McGahan was pleased to see the players reach these milestones, and stressed the importance of acknowledging them.

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Dom Shipperley

Dom Shipperley

The Melbourne Rebels will be without winger Dom Shipperley until at least Round 11 in Super Rugby after he fractured his hand playing against the Emirates Lions.

Rebeles winger Shipperley suffered the injury in the Rebels 20 / 16 loss to the Lions at AAMI Park on Friday and will be sidelined for an estimated 4 – 6 weeks.

Shipperley, who was making his 50th Super Rugby appearance, has started all 5 games for the Rebels this season since moving to Melbourne, however he will now be ruled out until at least Round 11 after undergoing surgery.

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Melbourne RebelsMelbourne Rebels’ head coach Tony McGahan made just 1 enforced change to his side to face the Emirates Lions on Friday at AAMI Park in Round 6 of the Super Rugby season.

Rebels recruits Mike Harris and Dom Shipperley will each make their 50th Super Rugby appearances this week.

Australian Under 20 fullback Jonah Placid, who made 1 Super Rugby appearance before moving to Melbourne, prior to the National Rugby Championship, will make his Rebels debut alongside his half-centurion former Reds teammates.

Jack Debreczeni, who earlier this week appeared on track to play, has been withdrawn with a minor knee complaint, with Harris moving to flyhalf and Placid starting at fullback.

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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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