With English, Shipperley and Jones representing the Baa Baas, the Rising have picked uncapped players for their defence of the Horan-Little Shield.
Zane Hilton has been forced to call upon new faces for the first home game of the season, the crucial clash against reigning champions Brisbane City on Saturday at Ashwood Reserve, the home of the Harlequin Rugby Club.
“It has disrupted our plans a little bit, but we are very proud of our boys and we have faith in the players stepping in their shoes.” Zane Hilton told G&GR
The two outside backs will be replaced by Stacey Ili (Melbourne Uni) and Cook Islands’ international Justin Marsters (Harlequin), with their first caps in the NRC.
“They both trained extremely well in the past two months and they performed well in the Dewar Shield” continued the Rising Head Coach “We are very excited of giving them an opportunity to play this week-end”.
Both Ili and Marsters in facts had a great season in the Victorian competition and figured in recent Dewar Shield Grand Final, with the latter taking the honours of best on ground along with two tries and most of all the Shield.
The other Barbarian Luke Jones will be replace on the bench by Rebels’ Sam Jeffries, back from injuries.
Another change in the starting line-up will be Mike Tyler, the Power House prop will replace Tim Metcher, injuried in the first NRC outing of the season.
A further four potential debutants will sit on the bench: prop Matt Onesemo, hooker Mitch Andrews, scrumhalf Maradona Farao and winger Filipe Vilitati.
The game will be played at Ashwood Reserve, a small club rugby ground compared to last season when all home games of the Rising were played at AAMI Stadium. Hilton sees this as a potential advantage for his team: “its a good opportunity for the professional players to go back to their club rugby roots, all our players know the ground very well, we train there and we will expect a good crowd, very passionate, maybe the Brisbane City players will be put off a little but the unknown ground and we might have a competitive advantage”.
The teams will play for the Horan-Little Shield, a new addition to the NRC, which has been welcomed by the players and the clubs:
“The first home defense of the shield,” said Hilton, “will add an extra bit of intensity in our game. Hopefully we will be able to build a tradition around this trophy in the coming years, Horan and Little have been two great ambassadors for Australian rugby, and we are honoured to be the first holders of the shield.”
Melbourne Rising team
15 Jonah Placid (Melbourne Uni & Rebels, 8 Rising caps)
14 Justin Marsters (Harlequin) *
13 Leo Taliu (Harlequin, 1 Rising cap)
12 Lloyd Johansson (Harlequin, 10 Rising caps)
11 Stacey Ili (Melbourne Uni) *
10 Jack Debreczeni (Endeavour Hills & Rebels, 10 Rising caps) (Vice Captain)
9 Ben Meehan (Box Hill & Rebels, 4 Rising caps)
8 Colby Fainga’a (Footscray & Rebels, 1 Rising cap) (Vice Captain)
7 Scott Fuglistaller (Moorabbin & Rebels, 1 Rising cap) (Captain)
6 Jordy Reid (Melbourne & Rebels, 1 Rising cap)
5 Steve Cummins (Harlequin & Rebels, 1 Rising cap)
4 Murray Douglas (Harlequin, 1 Rising cap)
3 Duncan Chubb (Southern Districts (NSW), 1 Rising cap)
2 Pat Leafa (Box Hill & Rebels, 10 Rising caps)
1 Mike Tyler (Power House, 1 Rising cap)
Reserves: 16 Mitch Andrews (Melbourne) **; 17 Fereti Sa’aga (Melbourne Uni, 3 Rising caps); 17 Matt Onesemo (Melbourne Uni) **; 18 Sam Jeffries (Melbourne Uni & Rebels, 9 Rising caps); 19 Pom Simona (Harlequin, 9 Rising caps); 20 Maradona Farao (Harlequin) **; 21 Sione Tuipulotu (Southern Districts, 1 Rising cap); 22 Filipe Vilitati (Box Hill) **
*Denotes Melbourne Rising debut
**Denotes potential Melbourne Rising debut