The Highlanders have named a relatively unchanged line up to the one that lost to the Crusaders last week in Christchurch.
Jack Whetton is promoted from the bench and Daniel Lienert-Brown rotates with Ayden Johnstone in the front row.
Jeff Thwaites, Manaaki Selby-Rickit and Scott Gregory are all in line to make their Highlanders debuts off the bench.
The Highlanders have won their last 12 Super Rugby games when hosting Australian teams.
The Highlanders have played the Rebels 8 times in Super rugby since 2011 and the Highlanders have won 6 matches and lost twice.
The Highlanders 6 wins out of 8 matches gives them a record of winning 75% of their matches against the Rebels regardless of venue.
This weekend the match will be played in Dunedin which is home for the Highlanders and the venue where the teams have met 4 times.
In those 4 matches played in Dunedin, the Highlanders have won all four. This gives the Highlanders a record of winning 100% of their matches against the Rebels at home.
The average score when the Highlanders play the Rebels in Dunedin is: Highlanders 42 Rebels 23.
The Highlanders have won the last four matches against the Rebels in Dunedin so Rebels have never won in the city.
After his most influential Super Rugby game for Melbourne since arriving late last season, five-eighth Matt Toomua says they “need a result” in Friday night’s clash with the Highlanders.
The Wallabies five-eighth returns to the starting line-up after missing last round’s 12-point loss to the Sharks with a minor groin injury.
The defeat leaves the Rebels with a 1-3 start the season.
Toomua turned in a first-class showing the week previous in their victory over the Waratahs and they will look for a repeat performance against the Highlanders in Dunedin, where they’ve never won.
They did however beat the Highlanders in their last meeting in round three in Melbourne last season.
Toomua gave credit to halves partner Ryan Louwrens but certainly put his hand up to wear the vacant Wallabies No.10 jersey with his own game.
“I felt like I was able to have an influence on that game,” Toomua said.
“Ryan, myself and Dane (Haylett-Petty) probably adjusted to the conditions better than the Waratahs did in that game although that’s not something we will have to focus on tomorrow because there’s a roof.”
The 30-year-old was on the sidelines against the Sharks in Ballarat and said despite the loss, he rated it one of their better games.
Like his coach Dave Wessels said post-match, he felt they lost some key moments which proved costly.
“I thought it was one of our better performances of the season as the Sharks are a very, very good team,” Toomua said.
“A lot of areas such as our structured defence, it’s probably the best we’ve done so we will take that now because ultimately we need a result.”
The Highlanders similarly suffered at the hands of the Sharks, losing 40-22 in round two.
Wallabies hooker Jordan Uelese was named on the bench for his first match of the year after a hamstring issue.
“He’s trained well so hopefully it won’t take too long for him to pick up where he left off,” Toomua said.
Average score: Highlanders 37 Rebels 22
Last five results
Fri, 01 Mar 2019 Highlanders 19-24 Rebels @Melbourne
Sat, 14 Jul 2018 Highlanders 43-37 Rebels @Dunedin
Fri, 31 Mar 2017 Highlanders 51-12 Rebels @Dunedin
Sat, 26 Mar 2016 Highlanders 27-03 Rebels @Melbourne
Fri, 04 Apr 2014 Highlanders 33-30 Rebels @Dunedin
Highlanders overall record against the Rebels
Played 8, Wins 6, Losses 2, Draws 0
15 Michael Collins, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Josh Ioane, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 James Lentjes (captain), 6 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Jesse Parete, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Dillon Hunt, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Teihorangi Walden, 23 Scott Gregory
15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Tom English, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Matt Gibbon
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Cabous Eloff, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Frank Lomani, 22 Michael Wells, 23 Andrew Deegan.
Match Officials and details
Date : Friday 28 February
Venue : Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-Off local: 19:05
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1:James Doleman Assistant Ref 2: James Munro
TMO : Chris Hart