Sean McMahon will return from Wallabies duty to lead the Melbourne Rebels into their final Super Rugby home game following injury to halfback Nic Stirzaker.
Flanker McMahon, who was part of Australia’s Test series loss to England, will captain the Rebels against the Stormers on Saturday night at AAMI Park.
The unlucky Stirzaker hurt his ankle in the final minutes of training on Tuesday and may only return for their final match against the Reds in Brisbane.
Ben Meehan, who wore No.9 while the captain was recovering from shoulder surgery, will again start.
In the only other change to the 15 that beat the Western Force before the Test break, Jonah Placid will start on the right wing with Sefa Naivalu shifting to outside centre.
Coach Tony McGahan said his team, ranked 12th, wanted a big finish to the season.
“We’ve had a really good couple of weeks on the training ground, including an exhibition game against the Hurricanes last week, so we’re looking forward to the remaining three weeks and strong finish to the season,” McGahan said.
“Unfortunately we’ve lost Nic to injury during the week but we’ve shown already this season that we’ve got the depth and leadership across the field to pick up the responsibilities.”
The match against the third-placed Stormers is a farewell for foundation Rebel Luke Jones, leaving prop Laurie Weeks as the only player remaining since game one six years ago.
Weeks will get a final chance to play alongside Jones at AAMI Park after recovering from a serious hamstring injury to be named on the bench.
Like Jones, fullback Mike Harris is also departing the Rebels for France.
Melbourne have also named uncapped Paul Asquith on the reserve bench for the first time with the 22-year-old back set to make his Super Rugby debut.
Rebels: Mike Harris, Jonah Placid, Sefa Naivalu, Reece Hodge, Tom English, Jack Debreczeni, Ben Meehan, Colby Fainga’a, Sean McMahon (captain), Jordy Reid, Lopeti Timani, Luke Jones, Toby Smith, James Hanson, Cruze Ah Nau. Res: Pat Leafa, Tom Moloney, Laurie Weeks, Culum Retallick, Adam Thomson, Mick Snowden, Mitch Inman, Paul Asquith.