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Where: AAMI Park, Melbourne
When: 10.40 (BST)
Watch live: Click here to watch on NowTV from Sky!
The Melbourne Rebels are faced with at least two changes to their starting side for their important clash with the Wellington Hurricanes at AAMI Park tonight.
Melbourne are set to be without halfback Nic Stirzaker after he injured his ankle in the closing minutes of their six-point loss to the Sharks last weekend.
However, in a boost for the side prop Toby Smith should be passed fit to play after picking up a shoulder injury, but he will need to pass one last fitness test before being given the green light.
Stirzaker’s latest injury setback could not come at a worse time after showing solid form in the past month, with the ankle injury the same as one he suffered in the pre-season.
It’s disappointing for Nic, who has worked so hard to be fit enough to play a key role in our last few matches after missing a large chunk of the pre-season,” Rebels’ Head of Athletic Performance Bryce Cavanagh said.
“At this stage we are unsure of the full extent of the injury; Nic will see a specialist later this week and the picture will be a little clearer then.
“He won’t play this week, but at this stage we’re not sure how long he will be sidelined for.”
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has tinkered with the make-up for his forwards as he looks to help them continue their solid form during the middle third of the Super Rugby season.
Reggie Goodes slots into loosehead prop for Ben Franks, who moves to tighthead in place of Jeffery Toomaga-Allen.
Ardie Savea also comes into the line-up, with Jack Lam moving to the bench, while the rest of the pack will be the same as last week, if, Jeremy Thrush is cleared to play.
Brad Shields has travelled with the side and will be called into the team if Thrush is not passed fit, with Blade Thompson to move into the starting side is that scenario occurs.
Friday night’s match will be just the third encounter between the Hurricanes and the Rebels, since the latter joined the expanded Super Rugby competition.
Both have won a match each; the Rebels toppling the Hurricanes 42-25 in Melbourne in 2011, and the Hurricanes winning 66-24 at Westpac Stadium in 2012.