Waratahs coach Rob Penney has selected Tepai Moeroa in the starting lineup for Saturday’s all-important Super Rugby AU match against the Melbourne Rebels in Sydney.
On the penultimate weekend of Super Rugby AU, the third-placed Waratahs must beat the fourth-placed Rebels to have any chance of clinching a top-three finish and qualifying for the playoffs, given they have a bye in the final round of the regular season next week.
If the Waratahs were to win by a bonus point and deny the Rebels a losing bonus point, they would secure third spot in the standings.
Penney has called up Moeroa for the Waratahs’ make-or-break match. Moeroa will start at outside centre in place of the injured Karmichael Hunt, who is nursing a hamstring strain.
Meanwhile, Matt To’omua has been declared fit and returns to the Rebels’ starting XV at inside centre.
Tighthead prop Jermaine Ainsley has also been named to start despite also being under an injury cloud. Cameron Orr, Jordan Uelese and Ainsley make up the front row, while Trevor Hosea and Matt Philip form the second row.
Former Waratah back rowers Michael Wells and Brad Wilkin will start either side of No 8 Isi Naisarani.
Fiji international Frank Lomani is the halfback on the inside of flyhalf Andrew Deegan.
Out wide, Andrew Kellaway and Marika Koroibete are the wings and Reece Hodge will once again wear the 15 jersey in the absence of Dane Haylett-Petty.
Wessels has returned to a five forwards, three backs bench split after previously having a six-two split.
Waratahs – 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Joey Walton, 12 Tepai Moeroa, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachie Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Tom Robertson.
Subs: 16 Robbie Abel. 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Will Harris, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Nick Malouf.
Rebels – 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Matt To’omua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Andrew Deegan, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Subs: 16 Efitusi Ma’afu, 17 Cabous Eloff, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Michael Stolberg, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Billy Meakes, 23 Tom Pincus.
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