Leali’ifano on Brumbies bench

Christian Leali'ifano will make his Super Rugby return from the Brumbies' bench against the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.

The Wallabies centre has spent the past five months in rehabilitation after undergoing surgery on his ankle to adjust problems associated with his last reconstruction in 2012.

There is just one change to the Brumbies starting XV, with Tevita Kuridrani back at outside centre. The inclusion of Kuridrani, who was given a week off for a family funeral, pushes Andrew Smith to the bench.

With Lionel Cronjé, Stephan van der Walt and Michael Dowsett dropping out of the match 23, Smith, Leali'ifano and Conrad Hoffmann have all been named as impact players.

Meanwhile, the Rebels have relegated scrumhalf Luke Burgess to the bench among six changes following their thrashing by the Waratahs. Nic Stirzaker replaces Burgess after recovering from an ankle problem.

Laurie Weeks returns from a blow to the head to start at tighthead ahead of Paul Alo-Emile, Colby Fainga'a comes in for Sean McMahon at blindside flanker and Jason Woodward takes back the No 15 shirt from Angus Roberts after missing last week's match because of a bruised knee.

Loosehead Max Lahiff and winger Tom Kingston get their chances to start due to Toby Smith's concussion and Lachlan Mitchell's season-ending knee injury.

Rebels – 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Max Lahiff.
Subs: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emilie, 18 Cruze Ah-Nau, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Male Sa'u, 23 Angus Roberts.

Brumbies – 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 JP Smith.
Subs: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaidhri Murphy, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Christian Leali'ifano.

Super Rugby teams (Round 7)

Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt