Super Rugby round 13
Horie to make first run-on start for Rebels
May 9, 2013
Melbourne Rebels have stood down Kurtley Beale for the match against the Blues © Getty Images
Melbourne Rebels coach Damien Hill has made several changes to his squad for Saturday's game against the Blues at Eden Park.
Japanese international Shota Horie has earned a position in the run on side, as has Lachie Mitchell, who replaces the injured Rory Sidey.
Bryce Hegarty and Angus Roberts also join the reserves bench, with Kurtley Beale stood down for the match for breaching behavioural guidelines set by the Australian Rugby Union, the Rebels, the Rugby Union Players Association and Beale.
Shota Horie is the first Japanese player ever to sign and play for an Australian side, and replaces Ged Robinson as starting hooker in his first run-on appearance. It is a breakthrough for Horie, in what has been a tough competition between Robinson, Horie and Pat Leafa for the position.
"Competing with Ged and Pat brings out the best in me, but we are all doing our best and supporting and pushing each other hard. I am more than ready to start," the 27-year-old said. "It has always been a dream of mine to play Super Rugby."
Shota's goal for 2013 was to become a starting member, something he can now happily say he has achieved.
"I am very honoured to be representing Melbourne on Saturday, and I hope I can make all our supporters and country proud."
In another first, Bryce Hegarty is set to debut from the bench, rewarded for showing some solid form in the local Dewar Shield Competition. For Hegarty, it is his first year back in rugby union, after spending three seasons with the Brisbane Broncos in the under 20s competition.
"I am thrilled to have this opportunity on the weekend with the Rebels, on quite possibly the biggest stage in world Rugby, Eden Park," Hegarty said. "Whether at fullback or 10, I will be ready. It has been difficult watching over the past few months, but I have learnt a great deal training with some great players. Having Damien and Greysy giving me constant feedback on my footy for Power House in the local competition here in Melbourne has really helped. I have really enjoyed my time down here so far. This match is something I will challenge myself in and I am looking forward to it for that reason."
Melbourne Rebels: Jason Woodward; Tom English, Mitch Inman, Lachie Mitchell, Cooper Vuna; James O'Connor, Nick Phipps; Scott Higginbotham (captain), Scott Fuglistaller, Jarrod Saffy; Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle; Laurie Weeks, Shota Horie, Nic Henderson. Replacements: Ged Robinson, Paul Alo-Emile, Luke Jones, Gareth Delve, Nic Stirzaker, Angus Roberts, Bryce Hegarty.
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand