The Rebels and Jaguares meet for the first ever time in what could be the Melbourne outfit’s last Super Rugby game at AAMI Park on Friday.
Still no clearer on who out of the Rebels and Force will be axed from the competition, this is hardly ideal for players, coaches and fans.
But those running out in their final game of the season will have to put off-field factors to one side as they look to end on a high note.
Currently the Rebels are in 17th position on the overall table after just one victory, with only the Sunwolves worse off after 14 fixtures. Their opponents this week, the Jaguares, have won five more games than their hosts but still are some way off where they would like to be.
What may give the Rebels hope of ending on a high is that they have earned two wins and one bonus-point loss in their final match of each of the last four campaigns, including a three-point win against the Reds last season. They’ll also hope their fans come out in support, possibly for the last time.
The Jaguares will take to the field on a Friday for just the second time this season but haven’t won on a weekday since their first Super Rugby fixture in Round 1 of 2016. They have two wins from four previous encounters with Australian opposition, having lost the other two.
Last week’s win at the Waratahs came as a surprise following a recent three-match losing run and it’s a certainty that will have lifted a great deal of gloom around the side after another disappointing campaign that will see the international-filled squad miss out on the play-offs.
It’s unsurprising the visitors have stuck with the vast majority of that XV that won in Sydney and their fans will hope continuity breeds success as they look to finish in 10th place, which will be a three-spot improvement on last term. However, many expected more from them.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Tom English, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements (one to be omitted): 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Fereti Sa’aga, 19 Esei Haangana, 20 Murray Douglas, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23 Semisi Tupou, 24 Jonah Placid
Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Rodrigo Báez, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Benjamin Macome, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Agustin Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Ramiro Herrera, 18 Lucas Noguera, 19 Ignacio Larrague, 20 Juan Cruz Guillemain, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Juan Martín Hernández, 23 Santiago Cordero
Date: Friday, July 14
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19:45 local (09:45 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy, James Leckie
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore