Rebels want to end Super Rugby rot v Force

Melbourne see their forward pack as the key to reviving their flagging Super Rugby fortunes on Sunday when they host the Western Force.

The Rebels have lost their past three matches to crash out of realistic playoff contention with four games remaining but want to finish the season with a bang.

Their best performances have come when their pack have fired, which they failed to do early in last round’s disappointing loss to the Chiefs.

Coach Tony McGahan has recalled prop Cruze Ah Nau, lock Luke Jones and flanker Jordy Reid to the starting line-up to add more punch.

Jones, who missed the Chiefs clash with a back injury, is one player who has a point to prove after being overlooked for the Wallaby Test squad named this week, while fellow lock Lopeti Timani could also feel hard done by.

McGahan has shifted flanker Colby Fainga’a to No.8, signalling the Rebels’ intention to target the breakdown in the absence of injured Force ballwinner and captain Matt Hodgson.

“We’ve had a difficult couple of weeks and a few setbacks but we’re a group with plenty to play for so we need to back ourselves and our abilities to get the job done on Sunday,” McGahan said.

“The Force’s size and physicality make them a serious threat in the scrum and around the breakdown so the inclusions will be a boost to our forward pack who need to be hungry and disciplined.”

Fullback Mike Harris, who was one of four Rebels named for the England series, has traded positions with inconsistent five-eighth Jack Debreczeni.

Reece Hodge and Mitch Inman are the starting centres, with veteran Tamati Ellison likely to miss the remainder of the season after suffering a calf injury this week during training.

Ellison was already sidelined with a back injury before the latest setback.

The Rebels won their round-one clash in Perth 25-19, with Hodge scoring a double in his Super Rugby debut.

Hodge was a late call-up following an injury to Harris, and also took over the goalkicking, contributing 20 points to the tally.

The Force have only two wins from 11 games this season.

Rebels: Jack Debreczeni, Sefa Naivalu, Mitch Inman, Reece Hodge, Tom English, Mike Harris, Nic Stirzaker (capt), Colby Fainga’a, Jordy Reid, Sean McMahon, Lopeti Timani, Luke Jones, Toby Smith, James Hanson, Cruze Ah Nau. Res: Pat Leafa, Tom Moloney, Tim Metcher, Culum Retallick, Scott Fuglistaller, Adam Thomson, Ben Meehan, Jonah Placid.

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