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Rebels to hit electrifying Super wingers

NZN 29/03/2017 Melissa Woods

New to fullback, Melbourne's Jack Debreczeni has a simple but effective Super Rugby game plan - get the ball to Fijian flyers Sefa Naivalu and Marika Koroibete as much as possible.

Naivalu will miss Friday night's match against the Highlanders with a shoulder injury, but Debreczeni believes in the long term that providing more quality ball to the wingers will spark the Rebels in attack after a disappointing start to the season.

The fullback has shifted from five-eighth to the back this year and is growing in confidence with each match.

Lining up there again against the Highlanders in Dunedin, the 23-year-old admitted he was still a work in progress.

"There's a bit to learn at the back; a bit more time to think but I'm enjoying it," Debreczeni said.

"Slowly over the last four weeks, I'm trying to adjust to different roles that 15 possesses."

He has two of Australia's best attacking weapons outside him, with ex-NRL winger Koroibete also improving with each rugby game.

Debreczeni said getting the ball to those players was a key part of his role.

"Most of my job is just trying to get them the ball, watching them run and try to support," he said.

"Especially with Marika, he's picking up the game more and more every week and really evolving so it's really exciting playing around those two."

Melbourne are still without a win, with last week's meek surrender to the NSW Waratahs after holding a 19-point lead particularly painful.

The Rebels have put up some fine performances in the past against the Highlanders, who also anchor their conference.

In their only game in Dunedin, Melbourne's went down 33-30 in a 2014 thriller.

The Highlanders clash at AAMI Park the year before was also memorable, with the Rebels scoring 31 second-half points to overcome a 24-point halftime deficit to claim a 38-37 victory.

After already taking on three Kiwi teams this season, Debreczeni felt they'd learnt from their mistakes.

"They play an exciting brand of football and, generally, they play similar to each other so we take our learnings from the first three weeks against the Blues, Hurricanes and Chiefs."

With Naivalu out of the Highlanders match, with centre Mitch Inman coming into the starting side and Tom English shifting to the wing.

Melbourne have an unchanged forward pack, with hooker James Hanson and lock Culum Retallick cleared after head knocks.

Coach Tony McGahan has named a 10-player extended bench, including Wallaby Lopeti Timani and Welsh lock Dom Day, with two to be omitted before kickoff.


Jack Debreczeni, Tom English, Mitch Inman, 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: (two to be omitted), Siliva Siliva, Tom Moloney, Tyrel Lomax, Dominic Day, Lopeti Timani, Jake Schatz, Esei Haangana, Mick Snowden, Sione Tuipulotu, Ben Volavola.

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