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Rebels suffer another Super injury setback

NZN 15/03/2017 Melissa Woods

The injury turnstile continues to spin for the hapless Melbourne Rebels with rampaging Wallaby Lopeti Timani ruled out of their Super Rugby clash with the Chiefs.

After two heavy opening losses, the Rebels were hoping for a little good fortune as they host the unbeaten Chiefs at AAMI Park on Friday night.

While Test back Sefa Naivalu will make his first appearance of the season on the wing, Melbourne have lost their hard-hitting lock to a knee injury.

Timani joins fellow injured Wallabies backrower Sean McMahon and prop Toby Smith on the sidelines.

Despite the injuries, Melbourne coach Tony McGahan said they needed to produce a performance they could be proud of.

"We've had a tough start to the season but the scorelines don't reflect the work we've put in and we need to make sure we address that," McGahan said.

"Regardless of the result we need a performance this weekend that we can hang our hat on."

McGahan named a new front row combination with Laurie Weeks back from a cork, while local prop Fereti Sa'aga will get his first starting cap after making his first appearance off the bench in their loss to the Hurricanes before the bye.

Big centre Mitch Inman is also out after a head knock while another Melbourne product, backrower Murray Douglas is in line for his Super debut after being named on the bench.

McGahan said his team wasn't distracted by speculation the Rebels could be a casualty of a revamped Super Rugby competition.

"It's been easy for us; we don't have much information about criteria, timelines, meetings - we're pretty much in the dark like everyone else," McGahan said.

"We've got enough on our plate to worry about and I'm sure the powers that be will let us know when they've made a decision.

"We can only really be concerned about playing and what we do know is that our performances haven't really been good enough in the first two weeks.

"Ultimately we're judged by what we do on the field and that starts Friday night."

REBELS: Jack Debreczeni, Sefa Naivalu, Tom English, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Nic Stirzaker (capt), Amanaki Mafi, Colby Fainga'a, Jordy Reid, Steve Cummins, Culum Retallick, Laurie Weeks, James Hanson, Fereti Sa'aga. Res: Pat Leafa, Cruze Ah-Nau, Tyrel Lomax, Murray Douglas, Jake Schatz, Ben Meehan, Sione Tuipulotou, Ben Volavola.

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