Preview: Waratahs vs Rebels

The NSW Waratahs will face the Melbourne Rebels at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Round 4 of Super Rugby AU competition today @ 11:05 SA Time. The Rebels comes off a bye last weekend and drew 18-18 against the Reds the week before while the Waratahs lost 23-24 against the Brumbies.

The Rebels are still looking for their first win in the competition while the Waratahs have one win after three games.

The NSW Waratahs' Head Coach, Rob Penney has named the same starting XV for today.

Tom Horton maintains his place in the starting side after scoring his first try in Super Rugby in Round 3, while Joey Walton will continue in midfield alongside Karmichael Hunt.

Another potential Super rugby AU debutant joins the bench, with Joe Cotton named in place of Robbie Abel. He joins Junior Wallaby teammates Ben Donaldson and Mark Nawaqanitawase on the reserves.

Jake Gordon makes his long-awaited return from injury via the bench after overcoming a troublesome hamstring issue, while Jed Holloway could make his first appearance in Super Rugby AU.

Waratahs: 1. Tom Robertson, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Ned Hanigan, 5. Rob Simmons (C), 6. Lachlan Swinton, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Jack Dempsey, 9. Mitch Short, 10. Will Harrison, 11. Alex Newsome (VC), 12. Karmichael Hunt, 13. Joey Walton, 14. James Ramm, 15. Jack Maddocks. Replacements: 16. Joseph Cotton, 17. Tetera Faulkner, 18. Chris Talakai, 19. Tom Staniforth, 20. Jed Holloway, 21. Jake Gordon, 22. Mark Nawaqanitawase, 23. Ben Donaldson.

The Melbourne Rebels has made three changes to their starting XV who will face the Waratahs.

Victorian lock Trevor Hosea has rocketed into the Melbourne Rebels starting XV ahead of their Round 4 matchup against bitter rivals the NSW Waratahs.

The Junior Wallaby prodigy has made the most of his two appearances of the bench this season to warrant selection in a match that could prove critical for the Rebels season.

Speaking to the media this morning, Senior Assistant Coach Kevin Foote said the call-up meant a lot to the 203cm giant.

“I’m very proud of those Victorian boys who’ve come through the system and I’m very excited for Trev.

“I spoke to him in the lift and he had spoken to his parents and he had almost gotten quite tearful, so I think it means a hell of a lot to him and his family back home.”

Cameron Orr also comes into the starting XV at the expense of Matt Gibbon, whilst Reece Hodge is elevated back into the starting XV after being handed the number 13 jersey.

Campbell Magnay will miss the match after taking a knock at training yesterday leaving the Rebels with a 6/2 split-bench.

Despite getting the win over the men from Sydney earlier in the year, Foote knows the Waratahs pose a different threat now.

“I think the Waratahs are actually doing really well. I think Rob Penny came out of that isolation and really got his roots in with the team and I think they’re doing well and really getting better and better.

“They’re playing a brave style of rugby and some of these guys making their debuts that are not scared to let the ball go, so I think they’re actually playing a really good style.

“From a defence point of view, we’ve got to understand how they want to play and we’re going to have to shut them down, but it’s always been a tight contest and I’m really looking forward to Friday night.

“I don’t think the opposition really matters to us at this point - we just want to play better as a team, and we know we can beat anyone in this comp when we play well.”

With the team having relocated camp from Canberra to Terrigal overnight, Foote noted the change of scenery was doing wonders for the team's mindset.

“The bye came at a good time for us – we really trained well at the backend of last week and then we front-loaded this week before the travel, so it’s going to be a good game Friday night.”

“I think the guys had blocked out Canberra knowing we weren’t going to be there forever, but we were lucky in that bye week being in Sydney, so a lot of the guys got to see their family there and the management really well planned around that.

“So, we spent that time in Sydney and then we came back to Canberra and we knew we were there for the week, so we really ripped into it.

“Canberra is a cold place – even though coming from Melbourne – so I was a pretty nervous, but I actually really loved it – blues skies, the people were so good to us and the facilities were incredible, so we were really lucky.

“But to break it up now and come to a place like Terrigal in the Central Coast, it’s been pretty awesome."

Rebels: 1. Cameron Orr, 2. Jordan Uelese, 3. Pone Fa'amausili, 4. Matt Philip, 5. Trevor Hosea, 6. Josh Kemeny, 7. Richard Hardwick, 8. Michael Wells, 9. Ryan Louwrens, 10. Matt To'omua, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Bill Meakes, 13. Reece Hodge, 14. Andrew Kellaway, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty. Replacements: 16. Efi Ma'afu, 17. Matt Gibbon, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. Michael Stolberg, 20. Esei Haangana, 21. Rob Leota, 22. Frank Lomani, 23. Andrew Deegan.

Opta Facts

The Rebels picked up a 24-10 win in their most recent clash with the NSW Waratahs (Rd 3, 2020 Super Rugby), snapping a six-game losing streak against them; they will now hunt for back-to-back wins against the NSW Waratahs for the first time in Super Rugby.

Each of the NSW Waratahs’ last three Super Rugby games on home turf have been won by the team trailing at half-time on the day, with the NSW Waratahs picking up only one win in that period (L2).

The Rebels have lost four of their last five Super Rugby games as the away team on the day (W1), despite scoring 23+ points in a game on four occasions in that span.

The NSW Waratahs have kicked 10 penalty goals so far in Super Rugby AU, the most of any team and twice as many as the second-ranked Rebels (5).

NSW Waratahs’ duo Michael Hooper (65) and Rob Simmons (62) have made the second and third-most effective ruck hits respectively of any player in Super Rugby AU; only the Reds’ Liam Wright (86) stands above them in this category.