Crawford to make Rebels debut vs Stormers

Former Waratahs winger Cam Crawford will make his Melbourne Rebels debut in their must-win Super Rugby clash with the Stormers in Cape Town.

The Rebels must win in South Africa for the first time to have any chance of keeping an unlikely push to the finals alive.

Coach Tony McGahan said the large change in line-up from previous years meant the side carried no baggage.

“We’ve got a really different squad this year … we’ve got a lot of players over here for the very first time,” McGahan said.

“We continue to do a lot of things for the first time and this weekend will provide a key opportunity.”

Crawford was a member of the 2014 title-winning Waratahs before joining the Rebels but has struggled to break into the squad.

McGahan was forced into three key changes to his starting lineup for the Newlands clash on Sunday morning (AEST) with centre Tamati Ellison (groin), winger Sefanaia Naivalu (concussion) and prop Toby Smith (back) ruled out.

Dom Shipperley will start at outside centre, Tom English replaced Naivalu while prop Cruze Ah-Nau will make his first start after featuring off the bench in every match this season.

Co-captain flanker Scott Fuglistaller returns to the starting lineup, relegating Jordy Reid to the bench.

Japanese Test prop Keita Inagaki has been named on the bench for the first time and could become the third Japanese international to represent the Rebels.

Meanwhile, Queensland hooker James Hanson will join the Rebels next season after signing a two-year deal.

Rebels: Mike Harris, Cam Crawford, Dom Shipperley, Mitch Inman, Tom English, Jack Debreczeni, Nic Stirzaker, Scott Higginbotham, Scott Fuglistaller, Sean McMahon, Sean McMahon, Lopeti Timani, Luke Jones, Paul Alo-Emile, Pat Leafa, Cruze Ah-Nau. Res: Tom Sexton, Keita Inagaki, Laurie Weeks, Cadeyrn Neville, Jordy Reid, Colby Fainga’a, Luke Burgess, Bryce Hegarty.

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