Rebels, Tahs lose captains for showdown
REBELS coach Dave Wessels has made two changes to his starting side for their crunch match against the Waratahs on Friday night.
The Rebels trail Australian conference leaders the Waratahs by a single point and with three rounds remaining, a win over their domestic rivals would go a long way in sealing a vital home final.
Captain Adam Coleman will miss the match because of an adductor injury, but the experienced Geoff Parling has been called in to play alongside Matt Philip in the second-row.
Coleman's absence will see club captain Tom English fill the leadership void.
Wallabies halfback Will Genia will likely miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season after having surgery on his fractured arm.
But they have depth in the position with Michael Ruru having guided the Rebels to their win over the Blues in Auckland earlier this month.
He will once again partner Reece Hodge in the halves, with playmaker Jack Debreczeni brought onto the bench.
Former Wallaby Ben Daley will also make his first start of the year and is joined in the front-row by Sam Talakai and hooker Anaru Rangi.
"We have some really experienced players in our line-up who can handle the big moments in big games.
"We're gonna go out there and give it a real crack in-front of everyone at the Stockade (AAMI Park) - it's exciting … it's going to be a bomb-cracker of a contest.
"Above everything, we just want to put in another performance where the people of Melbourne can be proud of us."
Meanwhile, the Waratahs will be without their captain Michael Hooper for the first time since 2013, after the star flanker was ruled out for up to a month with a hamstring injury.
His absence has seen coach Daryl Gibson name fly-half Bernard Foley captain.
Hooper's injury has seen Gibson forced to reshuffle his back-row, with Will Miller shifting to his preferred position of openside flanker while the fit again Ned Hanigan comes in at blindside flanker.
Despite playing all three Tests for the Wallabies off the bench, Tolu Latu has once again been named as a reserve with Damien Fitzpatrick named to start at hooker.
Jed Holloway has also been selected in the second-row alongside Wallabies lock Rob Simmons.