The Melbourne Rebels’ top point-scorer Jason Woodward has been dropped from the starting side for their clash with the Lions.
Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan says he’s dropped the club’s top point-scorer Jason Woodward for Saturday morning’s (AEST) Super Rugby clash with the Lions due to his lack of form – and not because he’s leaving the club at season’s end.
A standout for the Rebels throughout the season, Woodward – who will return to New Zealand to play for the Hurricanes in 2015 – has been dropped from fullback, to the wing, and now to the bench.
Holding the club-record with 210 Super Rugby points, Woodward will be replaced on the wing by Tom Kingston, while young fullback Jack Debreczeni and flyhalf Bryce Hegarty will share the goal-kicking duties at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park Stadium.
McGahan made it clear on Thursday that he was holding players to account following last week’s thumping at the hands of the Queensland Reds, and not preparing for the future.
“It’s based on form, really,” McGahan said.
“Jason’s form over the past few weeks probably hasn’t been where he can deliver.
“The staff have been evaluating. Jason has been spoken to. It wasn’t a big decision from our end.”
McGahan added that Debreczeni would have been given more game time this season if he hadn’t suffered two lower leg injuries throughout year.
“It’s a very difficult situation to come into Super Rugby. We need to be patient. We said to (Debreczeni) when he came in that he wouldn’t have the selection axe hanging over him,” McGahan said.
“And certainly Tom Kingston and Tom English have been doing the job on the wings.”
Also dropped for the match is lock Cadeyrn Neville, with Hugh Pyle returning, as well as hooker Pat Leafa, who will be replaced by recently re-signed Japanese hooker Shota Horie.
McGahan said the fact that Pyle was heading to French club Stade Francais after the season had finished was proof he was basing his decisions on form.
“Cadeyrn has been unable to deliver consistently, and therefore Hugh gets the opportunity,” McGahan said.
Meanwhile, flanker Scott Fuglistaller has been named to start in place of Sean McMahon, who is away with the Commonwealth Games Sevens squad.
Rebels: Jack Debreczeni, Tom Kingston, Tamati Ellison, Mitch Inman, Tom English, Bryce Hegarty, Luke Burgess, Scott Higginbotham (c), Scott Fuglistaller, Colby Fainga’a, Luke Jones, Hugh Pyle, Laurie Weeks, Shota Horie, Toby Smith. Res: Pat Leafa, Cruze Ah-Nau, Paul Alo-Emile, Cadeyrn Neville, Jordy Reid, Nic Stirzaker, Jason Woodward, Telusa Veainu.