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Injuries force Rebels' changes for Tahs

NZN 19/05/2017 Melissa Woods

The hapless Melbourne Rebels' can't take a trick, losing in-form backs Tom English and Sefa Naivalu for their Sunday's Super Rugby clash with the NSW Waratahs in Sydney.

The Rebels spoke this week of the stress and pressure on their players, who had spent most of the season with an axe hanging over their heads as one of two clubs nominated to be cut from the down-sized competition.

Their week hasn't improved with the backline forced into another reshuffle for the Allianz Stadium match.

Jackson Garden-Bachop has been reinstated at five-eighth, with Ben Volavola moving to fullback.

With centre English out with an ankle injury, Reece Hodge and Mitch Inman are the pairing while youngster Jack Maddocks gets his first Super start since round one on the wing, replacing Naivalu (leg).

In some rare good news, the Rebels will have their first-choice back row on the park together for the first time this season, with Wallaby Sean McMahon starting at No.7 and hard-hitting Lopeti Timani returning from suspension to join workhorse No.8 Amanaki Mafi.

With his future hanging in the balance, off-contract Inman said it had been tough to focus this week on rugby.

"It's stressful enough as it is playing in the Super Rugby competition, let alone having a decision of this significance hanging over our heads," Inman said.

"A lot of us don't know what we're doing post-July.

"The sooner we get a decision, the better off we'll be."

Inman said all the Rebels' players could do was concentrate on performing on the field, and deliver an 80-minute performance against the Waratahs.

In their round-five clash, Melbourne let slip a 19-point halftime lead to lose 32-25.

"We let them in the game with our own mistakes that NSW capitalised (on) and that's happened a fair few times. So we need to put in a complete 80-minute performance and that's what we're continually searching for," Inman said.

"It's more of a mental issue with us and we need to stay in the fight."

REBELS:

Ben Volavola, Jack Maddocks, Jack Maddocks, Mitch Inman, Reece Hodge (capt), Marika Koroibete, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ben Meehan, Amanaki Mafi, Sean McMahon, Lopeti Timani, Steve Cummins, Culum Retallick, Tyrel Lomax, James Hanson, Toby Smith.

Res: Siliva Siliva, Fereti Sa'aga, Laurie Weeks, Esei Haangana, Colby Fainga'a, Harrison Goddard, Sione Tuipulotu, Jonah Placid.

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