This Vodacom Super Rugby match, which kicks off at 11h45 (SA time) and will be televised live on SuperSport1, is the opening game of the Vodacom Bulls’ four-match Australasian tour.
Gelant was pulled from the team that lost to the Crusaders at home last weekend due to bronchitis, but he has shrugged off the illness and will wear the No 15 jersey at AAMI Park in place of Divan Rossouw, who moves to the bench.
Liebenberg has shrugged off his injury niggles and will take over the No 7 flank duties from Jannes Kirsten, while Paul Schoeman rotates places with Marco van Staden, who moves to the bench, in a new-look loose trio.
The Vodacom Bulls had a disappointing home outing against the Crusaders last weekend and they need a good performance against the Rebels, currently second in the Australian conference, to boost their confidence for the rest of the tour.
It will only be their third visit to Melbourne – in 2012 the Vodacom Bulls won 41-35, but three years later, in 2015, the Rebels came out tops, winning that match 21-20.
It’s been three years since the Vodacom Bulls’ last victory in Australia, over the Force in Perth in 2016 (42-20), a statistic they will be keen to rectify on Friday.
A win in Melbourne will also aid the Vodacom Bulls in keeping their playoff hopes alive. They are also currently second on the South African log, just one point behind the Cell C Sharks, who lead the local ladder on 29 points, although the Pretoria side have played one less game than the Durbanites.
What they said:
Vodacom Bulls head coach Pote Human said: “Our performance against the Rebels will be a crucial indicator of our prospects for the rest of the season. We need to start the tour well, but more importantly, we need to get some self-respect back after our poor showing in front of the Loftus faithful last weekend. We owe it to them, but also ourselves to show some intent and some desire to win this competition.”
Vodacom Bulls captain Handre Pollard said the Rebels have shown how good they are at preying on weaknesses in their opponents' armoury: “To be fair, we showed that we have a couple of areas to improve upon. That said, the one thing about this squad you cannot fault is to take it on the chin and then just work harder. We all want to be there at the end of the race, we want to play in the knock-out phase and then the final. I believe we have the players to do exactly that.”
Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Rob Leota, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner. Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Pone Fa’amausili, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Matt To’omua.
Vodacom Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Head to head:
Rebels won: 1
Vodacom Bulls won: 5
Rebels points: 108
Vodacom Bulls points: 221
Average score: 18-37
Date: Friday, 17 May 2019
SA time: 11h45
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Aaron Pook
Television Match Official: Ian Smith