Debuting Quartet Highlight First Match Day 23 in '23

The Melbourne Rebels have confirmed their Match Day 23 for Saturday’s opening match of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season against the Western Force at HBF Stadium.Italian international, Monty Ioane, will make his long-awaited Super Rugby debut after being named at left wing, joining Tuaina Taii Tualima, Vaiolini Ekuasi and Alex Mafi, who will all run out for the Rebels on the Super Rugby stage for the first time.Mafi makes up an imposing front-row alongside Wallabies’ pair Matt Gibbon and Sam Talakai.Meanwhile, Tuaina Taii Tualima will pair with Victorian Josh Canham, following an outstanding pre-season campaign after signing with the Rebels last July, while popular Rebel, Josh Kemeny, has been named for his first match since 2021.Kemeny will be joined in the backrow by Richard Hardwick and Brad Wilkin, who will lead the Rebels out for the first time since been elected stand-in Captain last week.Wilkin says his teammates are focused on the challenge ahead and determined to start the season off with a win.“The whole Club is driven to put our best foot forward and put into practice all of our learnings and hard work from this pre-season,” said Wilkin.“we’ve taken advantage of our great facilities and built great consistency and habits together, so we’re excited for round 1 and really believe we’re in a good spot to push on and have a successful season.”Ryan Louwrens returns at scrumhalf, while 22-year-old Carter Gordon will look to build on last year's strong season finish, named at flyhalf.The experienced Stacey Ili joins Vice Captain Reece Hodge at centre, while Monty Ioane will combine with Lachie Anderson on the wing, with Nick Jooste selected at full-back.Following their impressive displays against the Brumbies, Jordan Uelese and Isaac Aedo Kailea have been named as forward replacements, joining the hulking Pone Fa'amausili.Trevor Hosea will provide crucial late game firepower as he returns the field for the first time since 2021, while the powerful Tamati Ioane and Vaiolini Ekuasi have also been named.Ekuasi has impressed with his carrying and overall physicality this pre-season and looms as one to watch having worked under the close watch of All Blacks stars Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii and Hoskins Sotutu.Lukas Ripley and James Tuttle round out the Match Day 23, with Tuttle set to play his 50th Super Rugby cap. After arriving at the Rebels in 2020, Tuttle has played 25 matches over three seasons and has developed into one of the Club’s most influential and respected voices.The Melbourne Rebels face the Western Force in Round 1 of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season, kicking off at 10:00 PM (AEDT). The match will be shown ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sports.

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