Beale will sit out the final trail match

Melbourne Rebels will treat the third and final trial game of the pre-season program more like a Super Rugby game than he has for any of the other games so far this season.

Coming up against the Crusaders at AAMI Park this Saturday night, the most successful Super Rugby team in the competition’s history, will be the ideal preparation for the Rebels’ first Super Rugby game of the season against the Waratahs in a fortnight’s time.

“We’re approaching it a little more game-specific,” said Hill. “We haven’t settled on a team (for the Waratahs) but we’re very close, and we’re looking to give certain combinations longer time together on the field.

“It’s our third trial and it will be our hardest trial as well. It will be our final test before we go into the season proper and will give us a good indication of where we are at in a number of aspects of our game.”

While Hill will play as close to his best side as he can for the majority of this game, one man who won’t take his place in the team is new recruit Kurtley Beale. The fullback suffered a slight hamstring strain during Thursday morning’s training session and will be rested from this game.

“Scans reveal the injury is minor, but he will miss this weekend’s game against the Crusaders at AAMI Park as a precaution,” said Hill. “He will be eased back into training over the next fortnight in readiness for our first Super Rugby fixture against the Waratahs at AAMI Park on March 2.”

The Rebels’ coaching staff planned their pre-season trial game period around facing high quality opposition, and they don’t come much better than last year’s finalist. The Crusaders have named close to a full strength squad, and with their first game of the season only a week away, they will want to play well to ensure they hit the ground running come Round One.

“It looks like they’ve picked close to a full strength side,” said Hill. “I’m not sure if all of their stars are playing, but even if they don’t their back up players are world class. It doesn’t matter what players the Crusaders put out you always come up against a quality team and that’s what we’ll get this weekend as well.”

Starting XV:
1. Rodney Blake
2. Ged Robinson
3. Tighthead Prop
4. Adam Byrnes
5. Hugh Pyle
6. Luke Jones
7. Tom Chamberlain
8. Gareth Delve
9. Nick Phipps
10. Danny Cipriani
11. Cooper Vuna
12. James O’Connor
13. Mitch Inman
14. Lachlan Mitchell
15. Mark Gerrard.

16. Luke Holmes
17. Nic Henderson
18. Alister Campbell
19. Tim Davidson
20. Richard Kingi
21. Nic Stirzaker
22. Heath Tessmann
23. James Hilgendorf
24. Eddie Aholelei
25. Lloyd Johansson
27. Luke Beauchamp
28. James King
29. Isaiah Mosese