Melbourne Rebels v British & Irish Lions. June 25
Luke Burgess to direct Rebels
ESPN Staff
June 23, 2013
Toulouse scrum-half Luke Burgess holds off the Montpellier tacklers, Toulouse v Montpellier, Top 14, Stade Ernst Wallon, Toulouse, France, May 12, 2012
Luke Burgess has great experience of European rugby © Getty Images

Luke Burgess will make his first start in Australia in almost two years after being named in Melbourne Rebels' run-on side to play the British & Irish Lions at AAMI Park on Tuesday.

Burgess, who has played 37 Tests for the Wallabies, recently returned to Australia from French Top 14 side with a stated aim of facing the Lions. "Every rugby player's dream is to have the opportunity to play the British & Irish Lions in their home country, and I am very honoured to have been selected to start for the Rebels and get a chance to play them," Burgess said. "Having been in Melbourne a couple of weeks now, I have built some solid combinations with this young playing group, and have enjoyed working alongside Nic Stirzaker in the half-back role. Together, we have both been able to apply a game plan that will look to challenge the Lions, and something we are both looking forward to."

Burgess made mention of the contrasting style between the two continents as a point of difference in his game management. "European rugby is a lot different to what we have down under, and I think I can bring an edge to the Rebels' attack and control the tempo o! f the game. It's important we establish this early, as we have seen what they can do when allowed to control the match."

Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor and Nick Phipps are unavailable for selection due to Wallabaies commitments, but the Rebels welcome the return of Hugh Pyle and Jarrod Saffy from injury. Rookie fly-half Bryce Hegarty also returns to the run-on side after missing the Rebels' previous match due to illness.

Damien Hill promises the Lions another tough game

"There are many great milestones in this match," Rebels coach Damien Hill said. "Not only is it the first opportunity the Rebels have to play the British & Irish Lions in front of our members and fans, but it will be the first match for Cruze Ah-Nau at the Rebels and Luke's first start at the club. I am very proud of the way Melbourne has embraced the Rebels, and we hope to repay that with a record attendance at AAMI Park, and a historical moment in Victorian sporting history.

"We have been without a number of our high-profile players this season but the squad has met these challenges head on with many of the younger members like Bryce, Tom English, Jason Woodward, Jordy Reid, Angus Roberts and Pat Leafa getting their first taste of Super Rugby. Their efforts have contributed to a number of excellent team performances this season and they are excited about the challenge they will face together on Tuesday night."

Melbourne Rebels: Jason Woodward ; Tom English, Mitch Inman, Rory Sidey, Lachlan Mitchell; Bryce Hegarty, Luke B urgess; Gareth Delve (captain), Scott Fuglistaller, Jarrod Saffy; Hugh Pyle, Cadeyrn Neville; Laurie Weeks, Ged Robinson, Nic Henderson. Replacements: Pat Leafa, Cruze Ah-Nau, Paul Alo-Emile, Luke Jones, Jordy Reid, Nic Stirzaker, Angus Roberts, Cooper Vuna.

© ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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