Tupou benched, Jorgo back for Fiji trip, Petaia sidelined, Swain surprise



The Rebels kick off week five with a tough visit to the 4-0 table-topping Hurricanes while the high-flying Reds finish off the weekend with a trip to Perth as they bid to stay in the top two.

Follow the latest team news as it happens below.

(All times in AEST)


Hurricanes vs Rebels, 5.05pm

Smashed out of the blocks against the Reds, Rebels coach Kevin Foote has reacted by making several changes, including in the tight-five, for his side’s clash against the Hurricanes across the ditch.

In particular, Test hooker Jordan Uelese has two new props either side of him with Isaac Kailea to start for the first time while Sam Talakai will wear the No.3 jersey.

Talakai’s promotion sees Taniela Tupou drop back to the bench.

The other big change to the tight-five sees Angelo Smith start alongside Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, with Josh Canham to come off the bench.

The Rebels have lost Josh Kemeny, which sees Tuaina Taii Tualima come in at blindside flanker.

After Nick Jooste came in late for Filipo Daugunu last week when the Wallaby pulled out because of financial dispute, Foote has called up Lukas Ripley at outside centre. Jooste will come off the bench alongside fellow backs Jack Maunder and Mason Gordon and Daugunu is missing again despite training from Tuesday.

The Hurricanes will be looking to make it five straight wins on Friday night and have been bolstered by the return of regular captain Brad Shields and All Black midfielder Jordie Barrett.
Shields and Barrett join several new names to the matchday 23 with Head Coach Clark Laidlaw opting to stretch the depth in his squad after some players pulled up with “niggles” after the first few rounds of SRP.

There are 13 personnel changes to his starting 15 with prop Tyrel Lomax and loose forward Devan Flanders the only two starters retained from their win over the Crusaders last week.

TJ Perenara has been handed his first start since his comeback from an Achilles injury, with the Cam Roigard rotated out of the matchday squad.

Cameron Roigard of the Hurricanes

Cameron Roigard with the Hurricanes. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)

Ngane Punivai is set to make his Hurricanes debut at centre, while halfback Richard Judd, first-five Aidan Morgan and outside backs Daniel Sinkinson and Harry Godfrey will also make their first SRP appearances for 2024.
“We’ve had to make some changes because some of the boys have got some niggles. We also want to let the boys who haven’t had a game this year find their feet. They’ve been training well, and they deserve an opportunity to play. It also shows the quality we have in our depth to be able to call on these players and we’re really happy with that,” Laidlaw said.

HURRICANES (1-15): Pouri Rakete-Stones, James O’Reilly, Tyrel Lomax, Justin Sangster, Caleb Delany, Brad Shields (c), Du’Plessis Kirifi, Devan Flanders, TJ Perenara, Aidan Morgan, Salesi Rayasi, Jordie Barrett, Ngane Punivai, Daniel Sinkinson, Harry Godfrey

RESERVES: Asafo Aumua, Tevita Mafileo, Pasilio Tosi, James Tucker, Brayden Iose, Richard Judd, Riley Higgins, Josh Moorby

REBELS (1-15): Isaac Kailea, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai, Angelo Smith, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Rob Leota (c), Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Glen Vaihu, David Feliuai, Lukas Ripley, Lachie Anderson, Andrew Kellaway

RESERVES: Alex Mafi, Cabous Eloff, Taniela Tupou, Josh Canham, Daniel Maiava, Jack Maunder, Mason Gordon, Nick Jooste

Referee: Nic Berry

Assistant Referee: Angus Mabey, Marcus Playle

Brumbies vs Moana Pasifika, 7.35pm

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has made several changes for Friday’s clash against Moana Pasifika.

After losing Blake Schoupp, Len Ikitiau and Andy Muirhead to injury, Larkham’s changes are both forced and tactical ones.

Harry Vella has been called in to start for Schoupp at loose-head prop, with James Slipper to once again provide experience and quality off the bench.

Vella will pack down alongside Billy Pollard and Sosefo Kautai, who both earn another rare start.

The biggest surprise is the promotion of second-rower Darcy Swain, who not just starts but has the captaincy.

Charlie Cale returns at the back of the scrum, which sees Rob Valetini shift to blindside flanker.

The subtle change allows Larkham to bring Wallabies forwards Frost and Tom Hooper off the bench.

Larkham will also bring rising leader Ryan Lonergan off the bench, which allows recruit Harrison Goddard some precious game time to start at halfback.

Ikitau’s injury sees Hudson Creighton start at outside centre, while the versatile and dependable Ollie Sapsford comes onto the wing for Muirhead.

A Super Rugby Pacific debut off the bench is on the cards for Moana Pasifika’s Tongan Test player Semisi Paea.

The exciting back-rower previously played in Major League Rugby for the New England Free Jacks.

Christian Lealiifano will return to his old stomping ground where he played 12 seasons amassing 150 Super Rugby matches. 

He starts for the second consecutive week, following a dominant performance in the team’s win over the Force in Perth.

D’Angelo Leuila and Pepesana Patafilo will combine for the midfield partnership. Hooker Samiuela Moli and Prop Sione Mafileo are also named in the starting lineup.

Michael Curry and Fine Inisi both get their first run of 2024, meanwhile Tomasi Maka is also named in the reserves.

BRUMBIES (1-15): Harry Vella, Billy Pollard, Sefo Kautai, Darcy Swain (c), Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Valetini, Jahrome Brown, Charlie Cale, Harrison Goddard, Noah Lolesio, Corey Toole, Tamati Tua, Hudson Creighton, Ollie Sapsford, Tom Wright

RESERVES: Lachlan Lonergan, James Slipper, Rhys Van Nek, Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Declan Meredith

PASIFIKA (1-15): Abraham Pole, Samiuela Moli, Sione Mafileo, Ola Tauelangi, Allan Craig, Jacob Norris, Sione Havili Talitui (c), Lotu Inisi, Ereatara Enari, Christian Lealiifano, Kyren Taumoefolau, D’Angelo Leuila, Pepesana Patafilo, Nigel Ah Wong, Danny Toala

RESERVES: Tomasi Maka, Sateki Latu, Sekope Kepu, Michael Curry, Semisi Paea, Melani Matavao, William Havili, Fine Inisi

Referee: Jordan Way

Assistant Referee: Reuben Keane, Jeremy Marky


Fijian Drua vs Waratahs, 12.05pm

Waratahs coach Darren Coleman has welcomed back two key players for Saturday’s tough assignment against the Fiji Drua, with Mahe Vailanu returning at hooker and Max Jorgensen at fullback.

Vailanu’s mobility and reliable set-piece will be needed against the Drua on Saturday, with Julian Heaven, who was excellent on his starting debut against the Blues last week, to come off the bench.

The other change is in the back three, with Jorgensen returning at fullback. The move allows Mark Nawaqanitawase to move back to the right wing.

Coleman is stacked on the bench, with six forwards included. Jack Grant is the replacement halfback, with Teddy Wilson once again looked past.

Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon said the side needed to ensure they didn’t get loose and play into the hands of the Drua.

“I think the last time we played in Fiji was together in the NRC”, Gordon said. “It was a tough one.

“The climate, afternoon footy, it’s going to be a hostile crowd, both teams are going to feel the heat.

“We’ve done a really good job against Fiji every time we’ve played them, we’ve nullified their threats, we went to set-piece quite a lot.

“The risk over there is when the ball gets a little bit wetter, we don’t get looser with it too and we go back to playing an aerial game, go to set-piece and try not to play like the Drua in Fiji.”

The Drua have made several changes – the most important being the return of Frank Lomani at No.9.

DRUA (1-15): Haereiti Hetet, Tevita Ikanivere, Mesake Doge, Mesake Vocevoce, Leone Rotuisolia, Etonia Waqa, Vilive Miramira, Meli Derenalagi (c), Simione Kuruvoli, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Taniela Rakuro, Apisalome Vota, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese

RESERVES: Zuriel Togiatama, Emosi Tuqiri, Samuela Tawake, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Kitione Salawa, Peni Matawalu, Kemu Valetini, Epeli Momo

WARATAHS (1-15): Angus Bell, Mahe Vailanu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jed Holloway, Fergus Lee-Warner, Ned Hanigan, Charlie Gamble, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon (c), Tane Edmed, Dylan Pietsch, Joey Walton, Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Max Jorgensen

RESERVES: Julian Heaven, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Tom Ross, Miles Amatosero, Hugh Sinclair, Lachlan Swinton, Jack Grant, Triston Reilly

Referee: James Doleman

Assistant Referee: Jono Bredin, Fraser Hannon

Chiefs vs Highlanders, 2.35pm

All Blacks winger Emoni Narawa returns after six months out of action. He was ruled out of the World Cup on the eve of the tournament with a back injury and returns via the bench for the Chiefs.

Clayton McMillan has given Samisoni Taukei’aho a rest week, while Anton Lienert-Brown is unavailable following a concussion last week. Three All Blacks return: Tupou Vaa’i from a week off and Josh Lord and Quinn Tupaea promoted back to the run-on XV.

Prop Jared Proffit returns from suspension following his red card for a high tackle against the Brumbies in round two.

Rhys Patchell returns to No.10 for the Highlanders, replacing Cam Millar who had the reins for the loss to the Brumbies.

That is one of two changes to the backline. Jona Nareki replaces Martin Bogado on the left wing.

All Black Ethan de Groot misses out due to HIA protocols following his concussion last week. Ayden Johnstone starts at loosehead, with Daniel Lienert-Brown onto the bench.

Lock Max Hicks misses out with a wrist injury, with Pari Pari Parkinson returning to the second row Sean Withy comes into the back row.

CHIEFS (1-15): Jared Proffit, Bradley Slater, Reuben O’Neill, Josh Lord, Tupou Vaa’i, Samipeni Finau, Kaylum Boshier, Luke Jacobson (c), Cortez Ratima, Damian McKenzie, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Quinn Tupaea, Rameka Poihipi, Daniel Rona, Shaun Stevenson

RESERVES: Tyrone Thompson, Aidan Ross, George Dyer, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Wallace Sititi, Xavier Roe, Josh Ioane, Emoni Narawa

HIGHLANDERS (1-15): Ayden Johnstone, Henry Bell, Saula Ma’u, Fabian Holland, Pari Pari Parkinson, Sean Withy, Billy Harmon (c) Tom Sanders, Folau Fakatava, Rhys Patchell, Jona Nareki, Sam Gilbert, Tanielu Tele’a, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

RESERVES: Jack Taylor, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Jermaine Ainsley, Oliver Haig, Nikora Broughton, James Arscott, Ajay Faleafaga, Connor Garden-Bachop

Referee: Paul Williams

Assistant Referee: Dan Waenga, Mike Winter

Blues vs Crusaders, 5.05pm

Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu returns to the starting XV this weekend for his 100th match for the club.

He’s back after dislocating his jaw on the Blues pre-season trip to Japan seven weeks ago.

“This is the club I love and grew up watching as a kid, it will be an honour to run out with the boys for my 100th game on Saturday night,” said Tuipulotu.

“To come back after an injury lay-off and be able to launch straight into the Crusaders is awesome. It’s going to be physical, it’s going to be tough and we know they’re coming to Eden Park to spoil the party. We’re leaving no stone unturned at training this week, make no mistake this is a big game for us and our fans.”

BLUES (1-15): Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Ricky Riccitelli, Angus Ta’avao, Patrick Tuipulotu (c), Laghlan McWhannell, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papali’i (c), Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Stephen Perofeta, Caleb Clarke, Bryce Heem, AJ Lam, Mark Tele’a, Zarn Sullivan

RESERVES: Kurt Eklund, Joshua Fusitu’a, Marcel Renata, Josh Beehre, Adrian Choat, Taufa Funaki, Harry Plummer, Cole Forbes

CRUSADERS (1-15): George Bower, George Bell, Fletcher Newell, Quinten Strange, Jamie Hannah, Dominic Gardiner, Tom Christie, Cullen Grace, Willi Heinz, Riley Hohepa, Macca Springer, David Havili (c), Levi Aumua, Sevu Reece, Chay Fihaki

RESERVES: Ioane Moananu, Joe Moody, Seb Calder, Tahlor Cahill, Corey Kellow, Noah Hotham, Ryan Crotty, Dallas McLeod

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe

Assistant Referee: Stu Curran, Jackson Henshaw

Force vs Reds, 7.35pm

Western Force coach Simon Cron has regained the services of two key backs for the clash against the Reds.

After being a late withdrawal last week, Nic White returns in the No.9 jersey while the straight-running Sam Spink is back at outside centre.

Nic White

Nic White. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Spink’s return has seen a subtle change in the backline, which sees Bayley Kuenzle shifted to the right-wing, Harry Potter to fullback and Max Burey back to the bench.

But the focus for the Force will still be up front, with several important players still missing.

Cron’s men will take on the red-hot Queensland side, who have won three of their opening four matches and are firmly in the top four of the Super Rugby standings.

Interestingly, both packs are unchanged from the week before.

Hunter Paisami makes a welcomed return for the Reds after fellow midfielder Isaac Henry was ruled out for the season following a second half knee injury suffered during their win.

The other change is the return of Tom Lynagh in the No.10 jersey, with Harry McLaughlin-Phillips to come off the bench.

“Before being sidelined, Hunter was in top form with his consistently solid performances. He is a plus for us,” Kiss said.

“Our analysis of the Force shows they are playing periods of really good rugby. We played and lost to them in a trial at Ballymore six weeks ago so we know how tough an opponent they will be on their home ground.

“We have to concentrate on our own game to keep our standards high. We know we put ourselves under pressure against the Rebels in the second half last game so there have been areas of our game to work on.

“The guys are a very tight group and this opportunity on the road is another chance to keep improving.”

The other big change is on the bench, with Taj Annan replacing the injured Jordan Petaia, who suffered another knock last week.

FORCE (1-15): Ryan Coxon, Tom Horton, Santiago Medrano, Thomas Franklin, Jeremy Williams (c), Tim Anstee, Carlo Tizzano, Will Harris, Nic White, Ben Donaldson, Chase Tiatia, Hamish Stewart, Sam Spink, Bayley Kuenzle, Harry Potter

RESERVES: Ben Funnell, Josh Bartlett, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Lopeti Faifua, Reed Prinsep, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Max Burey, George Poolman

REDS (1-15): Peni Ravai, Matt Faessler, Zane Nonggorr, Seru Uru, Ryan Smith, Liam Wright (co-c), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott (co-c), Tom Lynagh, Mac Grealy, Hunter Paisami, Josh Flook, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell

RESERVES: Josh Nasser, George Blake, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Cormac Daly, John Bryant, Kalani Thomas, Harry McLaughlin-Phillips, Taj Annan

Referee: Damon Murphy

Assistant Referee: Graham Cooper, Jordan Kaminski


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