Rebels v Waratahs, AAMI Park, February 18
Cipriani benched for Rebels opener
February 16, 2011
Danny Cipriani has not done enough in trials to earn a Melbourne Rebels starting berth © Getty Images
Danny Cipriani will start from the bench when the Melbourne Rebels take on the Waratahs in their historic first competitive match on Friday night.
The Super Rugby new boys help get the expanded competition under way at their AAMI Park home but England international Cipriani has been beaten to the fly-half role by James Hilgendorf.
Rebels coach Rod Macqueen confirmed Cipriani, along with all his replacements, would get some game time against one of last year's Super 14 semi-finalists.
Sam Cordingley beat Nick Phipps to scrum-half duties while captain Stirling Mortlock is fit to start in the centres outside Cooper Vuna. Another former rugby league star, Luke Rooney, starts on the wing.
Wales international and Rebels vice-captain Gareth Delve starts at No.8 and former All Blacks prop Greg Somerville takes his place in the front-row. Adam Freier is the biggest omission, the veteran hooker missing out with a back problem.
Macqueen said: "The team is looking forward to the challenge of playing the Waratahs and all players named in the squad will get a run on the night. The build- up of excitement around the club this week has been incredible and we are excited to be playing in front of a home crowd at AAMI Park.
"Adam Freier has been unavailable for selection due to injury but we are pleased Sam Cordingley has passed a medical clearance and will be taking the field. We know this will be our greatest test yet, the Waratahs are a well-drilled, physical team, who have been playing together and enjoying success in Super Rugby for many seasons, we are definitely the new kids on the block."
Meanwhile, Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh scoffed at public claims from Macqueen that the Waratahs should be favourites for the Super Rugby title, insisting it's a ploy to deflect attention from a side under pressure ahead of their big debut.
Melbourne Rebels: Julian Huxley; Lachlan Mitchell, Stirling Mortlock (c), Cooper Vuna, Luke Rooney; James Hilgendorf, Sam Cordingley; Nic Henderson, Ged Robinson, Greg Somerville, Adam Byrnes, Kevin O'Neill, Hoani Macdonald, Michael Lipman, Gareth Delve
Replacements: Heath Tessmann, Laurie Weeks, Alister Campbell, Jarrod Saffy, Nick Phipps, Danny Cipriani, Afusipa Taumoepeau
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