Rising welcome back Toolis for Vikings

The Melbourne Rising lock Alex Toolis will make his long-awaited return from injury against the Canberra Vikings at Frankston Park, Frankston, on Sunday from 1.00pm (AEDT).

Toolis is one of four changes made by head coach Zane Hilton to the Rising’s starting line-up for the sixth round of the 2017 National Rugby Championship (NRC).

The 25-year-old second rower missed the 2017 Super Rugby season when he was sidelined for 12 months following neck surgery during last year’s NRC campaign.

Toolis is the second Rebels player to return from serious injury via the Melbourne Rising after back rower Rob Leota successfully cameback from a knee injury against the Greater Sydney Rams a fortnight ago.

After two weeks in the No.8 jersey, Leota will shift to flanker for this weekend’s clash with the second-placed Vikings following the return of Wallabies backrower Lopeti Timani, who will make his first appearance at home this NRC season.

An ankle injury to winger Semisi Tupou last weekend against Queensland Country will see speedster Henry Hutchison make his run-on debut for the Melbourne Rising after two appearances off the bench this year.

Playmaker Lloyd Johansson will make his first start for the year after Hilton named the former Wallaby at inside centre while Frankston-native Sione Tuipulotu has shifted to outside centre.

Experienced hooker Siliva Siliva will captain the Rising for the first time in his career on Sunday after minor knee surgery to Steve Cummins has ruled the lock out for the remaining three games of the NRC season.

Angelo Leaupepe has been recalled to the reserves bench for his second appearance of the season.

“A couple of unfortunate injuries have forced us to make a few changes this weekend but it’s great to welcome experienced and quality players like Alex (Toolis), Lopeti (Timani) and Lloyd (Johansson) to the starting line-up,” Hilton said.

“We’ve got to make sure that we use all of that experience and play with confidence for a full 80 minutes against a very strong Vikings side, who put on a cricket score against the Fijian Drua last weekend.”

The Melbourne Rising return to the City of Frankston for a third consecutive year with the Victorian Rugby Union’s annual Frankston Festival of Rugby, which includes the Melbourne International Sevens tournament over the weekend.

The Rising and Vikings have split the four previous meetings between the two sides. The Rising claimed a 34-13 victory in the only fixture in Melbourne in the inaugural season and a 60-44 win in the most recent fixture last season.

The Rising are encouraging fans to donate any rugby boots, balls or kit to The Fiji Project at the game on Sunday as part of the National Rugby Championship’s Pasifika Round.

The game will be live streamed via foxsports.com.au from 1.00pm (AEDT).

2017 National Rugby Championship – Round 6
Melbourne Rising v Canberra Vikings
Sunday 8 October 2017
Frankston Park, Frankson
Kick-off: 1.00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: LIVE STREAM via foxsports.com.au.
Live Updates: www.twitter.com/MelbourneRebels

Melbourne Rising team for Round 6 v Vikings:

1. Rory O’Connor
2. Siliva Siliva
3. Fereti Sa’aga
4. Jason Havea
5. Alex Toolis
6. Rob Leota
7. Ikapote Tupai
8. Lopeti Timani
9. Harrison Goddard
10. Jack McGregor
11. Henry Hutchison
12. Lloyd Johansson
13. Sione Tuipulotu
14. Kitione Ratu
15. Jack Maddocks

Reserves

16. Cameron Mapusua
17. Tom Moloney
18. Pome Fa’amausili
19. Sione Taufa
20. Mahe Vailanu
21. Maradona Farao
22. Hunter Paisami
23. Angelo Leaupepe