Veteran halfback Luke Burgess hopes the Rebels finishing the Super Rugby season with three wins will help his Wallabies cause.
Melbourne Rebels halfback Luke Burgess has an unexpected spring in his step ahead of Friday night’s Super Rugby clash with Queensland.
Burgess was set to miss the remainder of the season after fracturing his leg in their last clash with the Reds in round 14 in mid-May.
But not only has Burgess returned to action at AAMI Park, he’s also back in Test contention after being called into the Wallabies’ squad for their final Test against France, replacing the injured Will Genia.
Before the injury, Burgess was at his best, scoring two tries in their maiden win over Queensland and hoped to regain that form quickly.
“It was a nice reward and good to be part of it,” the 30-year-old said of his Test squad inclusion.
“Three games until the end of the season now is a nice little block to concentrate on and it’s important that we play well and, hopefully, a few of us can be part of the Wallabies.”
Queensland will be without Genia (ankle) and Quade Cooper (shoulder) with Nick Frisby and Ben Lucas in the halves.
Burgess said Frisby was an impressive replacement at No.9.
“I don’t think they lose too much with the injuries they’ve suffered.
“Nick will be very dangerous around the breakdown as, like Will, he’s an excellent runner.
“He’s also got an excellent passing game so he’ll give the team plenty of width and speed in attack so we don’t change a lot how we prepare.”
The Rebels will give exciting young back Jack Debreczeni his Super Rugby run-on debut at fullback, with Jason Woodward shifting to the wing.
Australian under-20s captain Sean McMahon is also starting in the back-row in his return from international duties, while halfback Nic Stirzaker has been named on the bench after recovering from an ankle injury.
The last clash between the teams finished in controversial fashion with Woodward slotting a late match-winning goal after Reds forward Ed O’Donoghue was wrongly penalised for eye gouging.
Queensland coach Richard Graham expected the match to have some extra spice.
“There’s no doubt there will be some feeling,” Graham said.
“The thing for us, the red card didn’t assist our cause at all but I think we need to be better.”
Queensland leapfrogged Melbourne off the bottom of the Australian conference with a surprise win over the Highlanders before the Super Rugby break for the June internationals.
Rebels: Jack Debreczeni, Jason Woodward, Tamati Ellison, Mitch Inman, Tom English, Bryce Hegarty, Luke Burgess, Scott Higginbotham (capt), Colby Fainga’a, Sean McMahon, Luke Jones, Cadeyrn Neville, Laurie Weeks, Pat Leafa, Toby Smith. Res: Shota Horie, Cruze Ah-Nau, Paul Alo-Emile, Hugh Pyle, Scott Fuglistaller, Nic Stirzaker, Telusa Veainu, Tom Kingston.