Nervous club confronts 'elephant in the room'

Nervous club confronts ‘elephant in the room’

The Rebels are preparing for what could be their last ever home game against the Chiefs in Melbourne on Friday.

And the last placed Waratahs are hoping to keep their slim Super Rugby Pacific finals hopes alive with a victory over the Force in Perth on Saturday.

Read on for all the round 13 team news.

Watch all the action from the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season with every match ad free, live and and on demand on Stan Sport

HURRICANES vs MOANA PASIFIKA in Wellington, Friday 5.05pm kickoff AEST

Young front rowers Siale Lauaki and Raymond Tuputupu will make their first Hurricanes starts as the club tries to get back in the winner’s circle against Moana Pasifika.

“Siale and Raymond are two very talented young men,” Hurricanes coach Clark Laidlaw said while naming a much changed team from the one that lost to the Blues.

“They have had to bide their time, but we feel that they’ve really grown in the environment this season, and both performed well against the Blues.”

HURRICANES (1-15): Pouri Rakete-Stones, Raymond Tuputupu, Siale Lauaki, Justin Sangster, Ben Grant, Brad Shields (c), Du’Plessis Kirifi, Devan Flanders, Richard Judd, Aidan Morgan, Kini Naholo, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Bailyn Sullivan, Daniel Sinkinson, Harry Godfrey

Reserves: James O’Reilly, Xavier Numia, Pasilio Tosi, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Peter Lakai, Jordi Viljoen, Riley Higgins, Salesi Rayasi

MOANA (1-15): Abraham Pole, Samiuela Moli, Sione Mafileo, Tom Savage, Allan Craig, Jacob Norris, Sione Havili Talitui (c), Lotu Inisi, Jonathan Taumateine, William Havili, Neria Fomai, Julian Savea, Henry Taefu. Fine Inisi, Danny Toala

Reserves: Sama Malolo, Tevita Langi, Sekope Kepu, Ola Tauelangi, Alamanda Motuga, Aisea Halo, Christian Lealiifano, Anzelo Tuitavuki

Referee: James Doleman

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REBELS vs CHIEFS in Melbourne, Friday 7.35pm kickoff AEST

Rebels winger Lachie Anderson admits the club is harbouring an “elephant in the room” with the possibility that Friday will be the last ever home game at AAMI Park.

The future of the cash strapped Rebels beyond this year remains uncertain and the final two games of their regular season are away to the Brumbies and Drua.

Despite the turmoil the Rebels sit sixth on the ladder and have an outside chance of securing a home final.

“It probably is the elephant in the room, the uncertainty,” Anderson told reporters.

“We’re dealing with things that no other Super Rugby club is at the moment. We’ve dealt with it for 13 weeks now and it’s no different this week.

“You’re not short of motivation, we realise the opportunity to play at home is massive for us, and we understand what a win would do for us and the program.

“Everyone would like to know but I think the staff and players are doing an incredible job of focusing on the rugby and it probably gives us good relief from the external stuff.”

REBELS (1-15): Isaac Kailea, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai (c), Tuaina Taii Tualima, Josh Canham, Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Darby Lancaster, Nick Jooste, Filipo Daugunu, Lachie Anderson, Andrew Kellaway

Reserves: Ethan Dobbins, Matt Gibbon, Pone Fa’amausili, Angelo Smith, Maciu Nabolakasi, Rob Leota, Jack Maunder, Glen Vaihu

CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei’aho, George Dyer, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Tupou Vaa’i, Simon Parker, Kaylum Boshier, Luke Jacobson (c), Cortez Ratima, Damian McKenzie, Etene Nanai Seturo, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert Brown, Emoni Narawa, Shaun Stevenson

Reserves: Bradley Slater, Jared Proffit, Reuben O’Neill, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Wallace Sititi, Xavier Roe, Josh Ioane, Rameka Poihipi

Referee: Nic Berry

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FIJIAN DRUA vs REDS in Suva, Saturday 12.05pm kickoff AEST

Wallabies trio Tate McDermott, Zane Nonggorr and Suliasi Vunivalu return to the Reds starting side after coming off the bench in last week’s win over the Rebels.

John Bryant takes over at No.8 from Harry Wilson (broken arm) while new cult hero winger Tim Ryan drops to the bench.

“I’m a big believer in giving young players a go when they are good,” Reds coach Les Kiss said.

“Tim Ryan has been proving that but it’s also about managing their exposure the right way at this level. He’ll have the chance to attack this game from the bench.”

DRUA (1-15): Jone Koroiduadua, Tevita Ikanivere (c), Mesake Doge, Mesake Vocevoce, Isoa Nasilasila, Etonia Waqa, Kitione Salawa, Elia Canakaivata, Simione Kuruvoli, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Epeli Momo, Waqa Nalaga, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese

Reserves: Mesulame Dolokoto, Emosi Tuqiri, Samu Tawake, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Vilive Miramira, Peni Matawalu, Kemu Valetini, Taniela Rakuro

REDS (1-15): Peni Ravai, Josh Nasser, Zane Nonggorr, Ryan Smith, Cormac Daly, Liam Wright (co-c), Fraser McReight, John Bryant, Tate McDermott (co-c), Lawson Creighton, Floyd Aubrey, Hunter Paisami, Taj Annan, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell

Reserves: George Blake, Sef Fa’agase, Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, Seru Uru, Joe Brial, Kalani Thomas, James O’Connor, Tim Ryan

Referee: Angus Gardner

BRUMBIES vs CRUSADERS in Canberra, Saturday 2.35pm kickoff AEST

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has recalled veteran James Slipper to the starting XV as he joins Connal McInerney and captain Allan Alaalatoa in the front row.

Injuries have forced Crusaders coach Rob Penney to revamp his team following the deflating loss to the Highlanders.

Captain Scott Barrett, a late withdrawal last week, is still nursing a back complaint and won’t be rushed back.

Penney said Barrett was a “week by week proposition.”

Eight changes have been made to the team to play the Brumbies.

The most notable change is at five-eighth with Fergus Burke, in what will be his first appearance of the year, replacing David Havili.

BRUMBIES (1-15): James Slipper, Connal McInerney, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Darcy Swain, Cadeyrn Neville, Nick Frost, Jahrome Brown, Rob Valetini, Ryan Lonergan, Noah Lolesio, Ollie Sapsford, Tamati Tua, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright

Reserves: Liam Bowron, Rhys van Nek, Sosefo Kautai, Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer, Harrison Goddard, Jack Debreczeni, Ben O’Donnell

CRUSADERS (1-15): Joe Moody, Codie Taylor (c), Fletcher Newell, Antonio Shalfoon, Quinten Strange, Cullen Grace, Tom Christie, Christian Lio-Willie, Noah Hotham, Fergus Burke, Sevu Reece, David Havili, Jone Rova, Chay Fihaki, Johnny McNicholl

Reserves: George Bell, George Bower, Seb Calder, Jamie Hannah, Dom Gardiner, Mitch Drummond, Rivez Reihana, Macca Springer

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe

BLUES vs HIGHLANDERS in Auckland, Saturday 5.05pm kickoff AEST

The Blues will be without Zarn Sullivan for the rest of the season after the fullback suffered a meniscus tear against the Hurricanes.

The Blues have also rested three key All Blacks in captain Patrick Tuipulotu, No.8 Hoskins Sotutu and winger Mark Telea.

Centre Rieko Ioane remains out with concussion and flanker Dalton Papalii will lead the side.

“It’s going to be fierce against the Highlanders,” Papalii said.

“We’ve talked about retaining the Gordon Hunter Trophy this week – he’s a man who holds a special place in both team’s histories and we know the Highlanders will be coming up here with fire in the belly looking to snatch it back off us.”

BLUES (1-15): Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Kurt Eklund, Marcel Renata, Laghlan McWhannell, Sam Darry, Adrian Choat, Dalton Papali’i (c), Akira Ioane, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, Caleb Clarke, Corey Evans, Bryce Heem, AJ Lam, Cole Forbes

Reserves: Soane Vikena, Mason Tupaea, Angus Ta’avao, Josh Beehre, Cameron Suafoa, Taufa Funaki, Stephen Perofeta, Kade Banks

HIGHLANDERS (1-15): Ethan de Groot (c), Henry Bell, Jermaine Ainsley, Mitch Dunshea, Fabian Holland, Oliver Haig, Sean Withy, Nikora Broughton, Folau Fakatava, Cameron Millar, Martin Bogodo, Jake Te Hiwi, Tanielu Tele’a, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

Reserves: Jack Taylor, Ayden Johnstone, Saula Ma’u, Will Tucker, Will Stodart, James Arscott, Sam Gilbert, Finn Hurley

Referee: Paul Williams

FORCE vs WARATAHS in Perth, Saturday 7.35pm kickoff AEST

Argentina prop Enrique Pieretto will make his Waratahs debut after being named at tighthead prop to take on the force.

Pieretto had been playing in Scotland but NSW coach Darren Coleman reached out amid a front row injury crisis.

“I was excited to come over,” Pieretto said.

“Darren called me and explained the situation and I spoke to the coaches in Glasgow. They were happy to let me go.

“It is a massive opportunity to me to be here at a club that is amazing place and good boys. It was good to meet them and they’ve made me feel welcome.”

FORCE (1-15): Harry Hoopert, Tom Horton, Santiago Medrano, Jeremy Williams (c), Izack Rodda, Will Harris, Carlo Tizzano, Reed Prinsep, Nic White, Ben Donaldson, Chase Tiatia, Hamish Stewart, Bayley Kuenzle, George Poolman, Kurtley Beale

Reserves: Feleti Kaitu’u, Marley Pearce, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Lopeti Faifua, Michael Wells, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Sam Spink, Henry O’Donnell

WARATAHS (1-15): Lewis Ponini, Jay Fonokalafi, Enrique Pieretto, Fergus Lee-Warner, Miles Amatosero, Lachlan Swinton, Charlie Gamble, Jed Holloway, Jake Gordon (c), Will Harrison, Dylan Pietsch, Lalakai Foketi, Joey Walton, Triston Reilly, Mark Nawaqanitawase

Reserves: Ben Sugars, George Thornton, Brad Amituanai, Hugh Sinclair, Langi Gleeson, Jack Grant, Tane Edmed, Izaia Perese

Referee: Jordan Way

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