Melbourne based Super Rugby franchise the Rebels have named a squad with 11 uncapped players for their first trial match against the Blues in Auckland on Thursday.
Rebels Head Coach Tony McGahan has included 24-players in the team for the Blues and consists of a s a combination of Rebels, extended squad players, Under-20's and local Melbourne players.
"We want to test our extended squad members in a competitive environment, so this trial against the Blues will give these players a chance to put into practice our last eight weeks of pre-season training," McGahan said.
"These players have all earned their opportunity through hard work during pre-season so I want them to back themselves and their decision making under pressure in a game situation."
New recruits James Hanson and Reece Hodge, along with Melbourne Rising player Sione Taufa and Under-20's member Ta Hosea, will pull on a Rebels jersey for the first time after being named in the starting line-up.
The Rebels team for the first trial will feature 12 players returning from last season and 603 Super Rugby games of experience, led by foundation team members Laurie Weeks and Luke Jones.
The backs will feature some familiar faces with Jack Debreczeni, Tom English, Mike Harris, Mitch Inman and Dom Shipperley, who were all in the starting line-up in the Rebels 42-22 victory over the Blues the last time these two sides met at AAMI Park in 2015.
"At this stage of pre-season there's bound to be a few bumps and bruises in our squad," McGahan said. "We're not prepared to take risk any with three weeks until the start of the season but we expect to have a near full strength team available for our trial against Samoa."
The Melbourne Rebels travel to Auckland on Wednesday ahead of the trial match against the Blues at Pakuranga Rugby Club on Thursday from 3.30pm (AEDT).
Melbourne Rebels team for trial v Blues:
Starting line up:
1. Toby Smith, 2. James Hanson, 3. Laurie Weeks, 4. Steve Cummins, 5. Luke Jones, 6. Jordy Reid, 7. Sione Taufa, 8. Ta Hosea, 9. Ben Meehan, 10. Jack Debreczeni, 11. Tom English, 12. Mike Harris, 13. Mitch Inman, 14. Dom Shipperley, 15. Reece Hodge
Replacements : 16. Jordon Uelese, 17. Cruze Ah Nau, 18. Ryan Cocker, 19. Murray Douglas, 20. Pom Simona, 21. Angus Fowler, 22. Dan Hawkins, 23. Paul Asquith, 24. Tom Moloney
2016 Melbourne Rebels Trial Match Schedule:
Auckland Blues v Melbourne Rebels
Thursday 4 February 2016
Pakuranga Rugby Club, Auckland
Kick off: 5.30pm (NZ) / 3.30pm (AEDT)
Melbourne Rebels v Manu Samoa
Thursday 18 February 2016,
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick off: 6.30pm (AEDT)