The Rebels have announced four captains and 11 debutants for their first trial match against the NSW Waratahs in Tasmania this Saturday.
James O'Connor, Nic Stirzaker, Gareth Delve and Nic Henderson will all share the role of captain, while uncapped players Rory Sidey and Scott Fuglistaller will play their first match for the Rebels in the run on side.
This will be the first time Super Rugby will hit the shores of Hobart, with Rebels head coach, Damien Hill, seeing this as an important exercise in developing combinations for the 2013 season, as well as bringing first class rugby to the state of Tasmania.
Hill has selected his starting side to start the match on February 2, featuring five international players including Cooper Vuna and James O'Connor, along with Wallaby year-end tourists Mitch Inman and Caderyn Neville.
"Having a game in Tasmania is recognition of the passion for Rugby Union in this state, and the team we have selected is a reflection of that. It is also an important exercise to ensure there is a direct professional pathway for young Tasmanian players to play Super Rugby for the Rebels," said Hill.
"Thirty-two of the 35 players are available at this stage and will be participating in the trial. Kimami Sitauti unfortunately had a pretty serious ankle injury late last year and will miss most of 2013 season. Scott Higginbotham won't take part in the trial, but we are hopeful he will be available for Round One against the Western Force.
Travelling with the squad to Tasmania, Kurtley Beale is named to start the match at fullback, although the coaschiong staff will assess his training volume, with a decision to be made at a later stage.
"He is desperate to play, and is excited about the opportunity to play with our young backline, but we will make that call on Friday," said Hill.
Co-captain for the trial, James O'Connor, will start the match at No.10, a timely return for the 22 year old, who chose to stay with the Melbourne Rebels during the Wallaby year-end tour to ensure he was right to play in 2013.
"This is definitely a huge match for me personally. Having an off-season under my belt with this group of players has been unbelievable," said the Rebels pivot.
"The reason I decided not to tour for the Wallabies is that I wasn't 100 percent. The decision was always geared for me to play this match in Tasmania and I could not be happier with where I am at physically at the moment.
"The most important thing I have accomplished isn't my physical preparation, but I've been able to be part of the team dynamic. From the combinations in the backline, to being able to know how the forwards run their lines, these are the things I take away from this pre-season campaign.
"I know every club says the same thing; the culture is great, and we have trained well. But the difference this time, is I have been a part of building it.
"I am so proud of the effort and the work the players and the Club have done to date, and North Hobart is going to be the kick-off of it all.
"I am stoked that Hilly has given me first crack at 10, and also love the look of our side. It is balanced and the best we could pick, apart from injury."
It's an exciting proposition for O'Connor who will most certainly see time at fullback in the second half, locking horns with former AFL and Greater Western Sydney player, Israel Folau.
"If someone had told me I would be playing Rugby Union in Hobart against Israel Folau, I would have told them they were dreaming," said O'Connor.
"It's an exciting time for Rugby Union in this country and I am sure Israel will be looking forward to being a part it."
FIRST HALF: 15 Kurtley Beale/Alex Rokobaro, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 James O'Connor (captain), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Garet Delve (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Tim Davidson, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Eddie Aholelei.
SECOND HALF: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Alex Rokobaro, 13 Tom English, 12 Lachie Mitchell, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Trent Dyer, 7 Jarrod Saffy, 6 Cadeyrn Neville, 5 James King, 4 Chris Thomson, 3 Paul Alo-Amile, 2 Pat Leafa/Shota Horie, 1 Nic Henderson (captain).
Date: Saturday February 2
Venue: North Hobart Football Club, Hobart
Kick-off: 17.30 (06.30 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Ed Martin, Richard Goswell
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