O'Connor to lead Rebels
James O'Connor has been named as stand-in captain of the Rebels for their upcoming Super Rugby clash with the Waratahs, with Gareth Delve ruled out.
O'Connor will be the third player in history to lead the Rebels, with regular captain Delve sidelined due to a shoulder injury that has not recovered in time from last week's 30-13 loss the Brumbies.
"Nothing is structurally wrong with Gareth's shoulder. He took a beating last week and simply has not recovered in time for this weeks match," said coach Damien Hill.
Manly Marlin Jordy Reid will come onto the bench for his first Super Rugby match, with Wallaby tourists Cadeyrn Neville to start in the second-row, and Luke Jones moving to the blindside flank with Scott Higginbotham packing down in the familiar position of number eight.
Hill was disappointed for Delve, although happy that the franchise has the talent to fill the void left by the Welsh international.
"We have spoken about the club's depth this year compared to others, and for the Rebels to be able to replace Delve with Higginbotham, while bringing in Wallaby tourists to the starting team is a demonstration of that," said Hill.
Hill is also showing his faith in the future of the club, announcing 22 year old O'Connor as captain in Delve's absence.
"James has really matured over the past six months as a footballer, a nd was humbled by the opportunity when I presented the captaincy role to him," he added.
Although the Rebels had some disappointing news on Delve, they were lifted with Kurtley Beale getting through training and showing no signs of his shoulder injury hampering him.
The Wallabies fly-half will start against his former side in an unchanged backline, with only one change to the bench seeing uncapped utility-back Angus Roberts replacing Alex Rokobaro.
Rebels: 15 James O'Connor (c), 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Richard Kingi, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Jordy Reid, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Angus Roberts, 22 Tom English.
Date: Friday, March 1
Kick-off: 19:20 (08:20 GMT)
Venue: Allianz Stadium