Aussie latest – Rebels reel in O’Connor

Keo.co.za brings you news from Australia’s Super Rugby franchises.

Rebels reel in O’Connor – James O’Connor is believed to have signed a deal with the Melbourne Rebels.

According to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald, O’Connor will join Wallabies team-mate Kurtley Beale at the Melbourne franchise next year. O’Connor is only 20 years old but made his debut for the Western Force in 2008 and has already played 27 times for the Wallabies.

Brumbies bring in McCabe – Pat McCabe will start against the Force due to Henry Speight’s ankle injury.

Coach Tony Rea has also been forced to make a change at hooker, as a hamstring injury has prevented Huia Edmonds from training. Anthony Hegarty will make his first Super Rugby appearance at hooker with Elvis Levi coming onto the bench.

Francis Fainifo will start on the wing with Adam Ashley-Cooper moving to the bench. Dan Palmer also returns to the starting line-up at tighthead prop with Salesi Ma’afu demoted to the reserves.

Brumbies – 15 Matt Toomua, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Matt Giteau (c), 9 Josh Valentine; 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Anthony Hegarty, 1 Ben Alexander.
Subs: 16 Elvis Levi, 17 Salesi Ma’afu, 18 Colby Faingaa, 19 Julian Salvi, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Tyrone Smith, 22 Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Dellit in for Shepherd – Force utility back Cameron Shepherd has been ruled out of the Australian derby in Canberra because of a head injury.

Pat Dellit will start at No 15 with James O’Connor switching to inside centre. Rory Sidey comes in at No 13 while Nick Cummins moves to the wing.

Prop Kieran Longbottom replaces Pek Cowan to earn his first Super Rugby cap.

Western Force -15 Pat Dellit, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Rory Sidey, 12 James O’Connor, 11 David Smith, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Jono Jenkins, 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 2 Ben Whittaker, 1 Kieran Longbottom.
Subs: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Tevita Metuisela, 20 James Stannard, 21 Gene Fairbanks, 22 Alfie Mafi.

Melbourne suffer Mortlock blow – Stirling Mortlock will miss Friday’s game against the Highlanders due to a hip strain. James Hilgendorf will take his place at inside centre.

Cipriani denies Europe return – Danny Cipriani has a two-year deal with the Melbourne Rebels and won’t be cutting that tenure short to return to England.

The Rebels have confirmed the signing of Kurtley Beale, who is currently playing flyhalf as well as fullback for the Waratahs. Despite speculation in the Australian media, Beale will not be going to Melbourne to replace Cipriani.

‘I signed a two-year deal when I initially signed and I’m happy with the situation I’m in right now,’ Cipriani told The Australian. ‘I’m enjoying my time here, enjoying the season. We’re going really well and I’d like to see us keep improving and moving forward.

‘I came out here to rediscover my love for the game because I was really close to not playing it for very much longer last year. And it’s done everything I wanted it to do. I’m loving rugby again and playing with a smile on my face.’