For their first game on Sunday the Melbourne Rising have name a team full of Super Rugby experience along with some Dewar Shield talent.
Coach Sean Hedger has chosen a conservative approach for his first game as NRC head coach, introducing only two players with no national experience in the Melbourne Rising team starting XV: Sefanaia Naivalu and Sione Taufa. Box Hill centre Naivalu is the top scorer of the Dewar Shield, a quick decision maker with an excellent boot, and Harlequin flanker Taufa is a solid player newlty crowned Dewar Shield champion on Sunday.
All nine Dewar Shield clubs are represented in the squad through the allocation of Melbourne Rebels’ players to the local teams. An indication of how much the Rising franchise aspires to unite the Melbourne rugby fans under one banner.
The team will be captained by Rebels scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker, who spent last year’s post season in New Zealand playing for Manawatu Turbos in the ITM Cup. Along Stirzaker in the midfield Jack Debreczeni will start at flyhalf and Mitch Inman will be second receiver providing guidance to the debutant Naivalu.
The first row is a very powerful display with Toby Smith and Paul Alo-Emile on each side of hooker and vice-captain Pat Leafa.
In the second and third row Sam Jeffries and Cadeyrn Neville will bring their Super Rugby experience as well as Luke Jones at inside flanker and Lopeti Timani at number eight.
In the back line new recruit Jonah Placid will play at full back, Telusa Veainu and Tom English will be the wingers.
The bench will display three more Rebles: Irish hooker Tom Sexton who was out all of Super Rugby season with a knee ligament reconstruction after an injury in the pre-season, prop Cruze Ah-Nau and scrumhalf Ben Meehan, who played last week Dewar Shield final with Box Hill. The rest of replacements is made up with local talent: Moorabbin prop Tuiatua Tuia, Harlequin’s Dewar Shield’s season MVP OJ Noa and Endeavour Hills’ backrower Reuben Rolleston, Harlequin’s centre and former Wallaby Lloyd Johansson and Moorabbin’s outside back Joe Kamana.
Rising’s first NRC match on Sunday 24th August at 2:00 PM at AAMI Park will be against Sydney powerhouseNorth Harbour Rays, reincarnation of sole ARC winners Central Coast Rays, a team formed by Manly, Warringah, Northern Suburbs and Gordon players.
Melbourne Rising Team:
15 Jonah Placid (Melbourne Rebels)
14 Telusa Veainu (Melbourne/Melbourne Rebels)
13 Sefanaia Naivalu (Box Hill)
12 Mitch Inman (Southern Districts/Melbourne Rebels) (Vice Captain)
11 Tom English (Melbourne Uni/Melbourne Rebels)
10 Jack Debreczeni (Endeavour Hills/Melbourne Rebels)
9 Nic Stirzaker (Endeavour Hills/Melbourne Rebels – Captain)
8 Lopeti Timani (Footscray/Melbourne Rebels)
7 Sione Taufa (Harlequin)
6 Luke Jones (Moorabbin/Melbourne Rebels)
5 Cadeyrn Neville (Foostcray/Melbourne Rebels)
4 Sam Jeffries (Melbourne Uni/Melbourne Rebels)
3 Paul Alo-Emile (Power House/Melbourne Rebels)
2 Pat Leafa (Box Hill/Melbourne Rebels – Vice Captain)
1 Toby Smith (Melbourne Uni/Melbourne Rebels)
Reserves: 16 Tom Sexton (Power House/Melbourne Rebels); 17 Tuiatua Tuia (Moorabbin); 18 Cruze Ah-Nau (Footscray/Melbourne Rebels); 19 OJ Noa (Harlequin); 20 Reuben Rolleston (Endeavour Hills); 21 Ben Meehan (Endeavour Hills/Melbourne Rebels); 22 Lloyd Johansson (Harlequin); 23 Joe Kamana (Moorabbin)