Outgoing Rebels fullback Jason Woodward will look to kick the Reds while they're down in Melbourne on Friday, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
The New Zealand born Woodward arrived on Australian shores three years ago as a lightweight 21-year old, but has bulked up considerably, reshaped his kicking game and will depart as one of the more rounded fullback options in Super Rugby.
Next season he will play for his home-town franchise, the Hurricanes, in a bid to force his way into the All Blacks reckoning. Match-winning performances like the one he put in when these two teams last met will go a long way in alerting the New Zealand selectors of his progress. On that occasion it was his penalty after the hooter that gave the Rebels their first victory over the Reds, in somewhat controversial circumstances.
On the surface the Reds and Rebels have very little to play for, but both will be determined to get a result here and avoid the wooden spoon in the Australian conference. For the Rebels, they will be looking for their first home victory over their visitors in four attempts.
Woodward will start on the right wing for this one, with promising youngster Jack Debreczeni getting a chance at fullback. Australian U20 captain Sean McMahon will start on the flank while Luke Burgess makes a return from injury at scrumhalf.
Meanwhile, the Reds will be without the services of Will Genia after the Wallabies scrumhalf was ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Nick Frisby will start in his place, the only change to the team that beat the Highlanders in their last outing.
HEAD TO HEADS
Overall: Rebels 1, Reds 6
In Melbourne: Rebels 0, Reds 3
WOODWARD'S STATS THAT MATTER
680 – The number of metres he's run in Super Rugby this season (Rank 8)
139 – The number of points he's scored (Rank 7)
26 – The number of defenders he's beaten (Rank 13)
Source: Vodacom Stats App
Rebels –15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Telusa Veainu, 23 Tom Kingston.
Reds – 15 Mike Harris, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Dom Shipperley, 10 Ben Lucas, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Curtis Browning, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Ben Daley, 19 Dave McDuling, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Samuela Kerevi, 22 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 23 Lachie Turner.
Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images