SRP Round 14 teams: Wallabies boost as Rodda returns, but Test prop out of RWC after devastating ACL blow


The battle for home finals heats up this week in the penultimate round of Super Rugby Pacific. See the teams as they’re released.

(All times are AEST)


Highlanders vs Reds, 5.05pm

Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn has made six changes to the starting XV who lost to the Blues, with James O’Connor set to return from concussion at No.12 in Dunedin.

Hunter Paisami will return to the Queensland side via the bench after recovering from a knee injury suffered in Round 5.

Peni Ravai, Matt Faessler and Zane Nonggorr also return to the starting side in a new-look front row combination, while Angus Blyth and Connor Vest start as locks for the third straight match.

After featuring off the bench in Queensland’s last two fixtures, Harry Wilson is back in the starting side with Seru Uru to provide strike as a finisher.

Wilson will reprise his combination with co-captain Liam Wright and Fraser McReight in the backrow.

Tom Lynagh runs on at flyhalf for the first time since Round 3 and will partner co-captain Tate McDermott as Lawson Creighton drops to the bench.

Tom Lynagh made his Reds debut in a trial against Western Force. (Photo by Brendan Hertel/QRU)

Tom Lynagh made his Reds debut in a trial against Western Force. (Photo by Brendan Hertel/QRU)

O’Connor and Josh Flook, who made a successful return from injury last week, start in the centres, while winger Mac Grealy comes into the run-on side for the fifth time in his career with Filipo Daugunu ruled out with a foot injury.

Jock Campbell and Suliasi Vunivalu both retain their positions in the back three as Queensland look to claim victory at Forsyth Barr Stadium for the first time since 2013.

Paisami is set to play his first game since recovering from a medial ligament injury alongside the likes of Sef Fa’agase and Kalani Thomas as a finisher.

Jake Upfield also comes onto the bench with Ryan Smith ruled out with a calf injury.

It will be an emotional night for Highlanders fans and players as they farewell Aaron Smith after 12 years service.

Smith was a key figure in their Super Rugby title in 2015 and is the team’s most capped player – with the Reds clash being his 184th appearance.

The ninth-placed Highlanders face a battle to make the top eight, with the Force only three points ahead in eighth and the Reds another point above in seventh.

“It’s sad but it’s exciting as well with the opportunity we have as a team,” Smith said. “I owe this place a lot. I owe Dunedin a lot. I owe the Highlanders a lot. I’ve got a lot of special moments on this field.

“I would just love nothing more than just a win this weekend, to be honest.”

Highlanders (1-15): Ethan de Groot, Andrew Makalio, Jermaine Ainsley, Pari Pari Parkinson, Max Hicks, Shannon Frizell, Billy Harmon (c), Hugh Renton, Aaron Smith, Freddie Burns, Jona Nareki, Sam Gilbert, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Jonah Lowe, Mitch Hunt.

Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Saula Ma’u, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Sean Withy, Folau Fakatava, Connor Garden-Bachop, Scott Gregory.

Reds (1-15): Peni Ravai, Matt Faessler, Zane Nonggorr, Angus Blyth, Connor Vest, Liam Wright, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, Tom Lynagh, Mac Grealy, James O’Connor, Josh Flook, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell.

Replacements: Richie Asiata, Dane Zander, Sef Fa’agase, Jake Upfield, Seru Uru, Kalani Thomas, Lawson Creighton, Hunter Paisami.

Referee: Brendon Pickerill

Rebels vs Force, 7.35pm

Simon Cron has made four changes to his match-day 23, including the long-awaited inclusion of Wallabies lock Izack Rodda off the bench. 

The 34-capped Wallaby re-joins the team after injuring his foot in the pre-season match against Fijian Drua.

Standing at 202cm, Rodda’s physicality will be welcomed against an impressive Rebels forward pack. He will come on in the second-row, where, ever consistent Jeremy Williams and dominant ball runner Felix Kalapu start the match. 

The front-row makeup is 21-year-old Siosifa Amone, who starts at tighthead prop, alongside Angus Wagner and Folau Fainga’a at hooker. 

But the Force have suffered a major blow with the loss of Test prop Tom Robertson to an ACL injury. The Wallabies’ stocks are already low with the injury to Angus Bell, and Robertson was ranked second only to James Slipper on The Roar’s most recent Wallabies power rankings.

Izack Rodda. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Melbourne Rebels head coach Kevin Foote has made six changes for the Round 14 clash, in the home side’s final match at AAMI Park for 2023. 

Star flyhalf Carter Gordon returns for his 12th match of the season after overcoming a knee bruise, while milestone man Reece Hodge shifts back to 12 after covering in Gordon’s absence last week. 

Workhorse Josh Kemeny has also been recalled for his first match since Round 11, named alongside captain Brad Wilkin and Richard Hardwick in the back row, while Vaiolini Ekuasi will provide valuable second-half impact. 

Rising hooker Theo Fourie, has been named to make his Super Rugby debut.

After arriving at the club in 2020, Fourie has worked closely under the guidance of capped internationals Jordan Uelese and Rebels alumni James Hanson, and looms as a player to watch for the crucial clash. 

Rebel Sam Talakai, said the players were focused on putting in a strong performance for their loyal fans and celebrating teammate Reece Hodge’s spectacular achievement. 

“Last week was really tough for us, but we reviewed hard and we’re now focused on this week and being composed in the big moments and turning those tight losses into wins,” said Talakai.

“The Force present a really tough opposition for us, especially defensively, so for us we’ve got to narrow the focus and bring what we have to the last home game and put on a good performance for ourselves, our family and friends, and for our awesome members and supporters.

“It’s a big occasion for the club with Hodgey as well. Reece is a special part of this group, and brings a wealth of experience. How he conducts himself day to day – he’s the ultimate professional and for us, we want to make the night extra special for him.”

Rebels (1-15): Matt Gibbon, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai, Josh Canham, Matt Philip, Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin (c), Richard Hardwick, Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Monty Ioane, Reece Hodge, Lukas Ripley Lachie Anderson, Andrew Kellaway.

Replacements: Theo Fourie, Isaac Aedo Kailea, Pone Fa’amausili, Trevor Hosea, Vaiolini Ekuasi, James Tuttle, Nick Jooste, Joe Pincus.

Force (1-15): Angus Warner, Folau Fainga’a, Siosifa Amone, Felix Kalapu, Jeremy Williams, Michael Wells (c), Carlo Tizzano, Rahboni Vosayaco, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Max Burey, Manasa Mataele, Hamish Stewart, Sam Spink, Zach Kibirge, Chase Tiatia.

Replacements: Tom Horton, Marley Pearce, Bo Abra, Izack Rodda, Tim Anstee, Isi Naisarani, Ian Prior, George Poolman.

Referee: Dan Waenga


Fijian Drua vs Moana Pasifika, 12.05pm

Drua (1-15): TBC

Moana Pasifika (1-15): TBC

Crusaders vs Waratahs, 2.35pm

Crusaders (1-15): TBC

Waratahs (1-15): TBC

Blues vs Hurricanes, 5.05pm

Blues (1-15): TBC

Hurricanes (1-15): Xavier Numia, Asafo Aumua, Tyrel Lomax, James Blackwell, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Caleb Delany, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Ardie Savea, Cam Roigard, Aidan Morgan, Kini Naholo, Jordie Barrett, Billy Proctor, Julian Savea, Josh Moorby.

Replacements: Hame Faiva, Tevita Mafileo, Owen Franks, Justin Sangster, Brayden Iose, Jamie Booth, Brett Cameron, Salesi Rayasi.

Brumbies vs Chiefs, 7.35pm

Brumbies (1-15):

Chiefs (1-15):

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