After Elsom yesterday declared himself back to full fitness following hamstring last year, Head Coach Michael Foley has named the flanker among an eight man bench, opting to stick with the same starting side for a fourth consecutive match and that last week held on to record a 23-18 victory over the Force in Perth.
Elsom’s inclusion amongst the replacements is the only change to the squad that last week defeated the Force, that will once again be led by prop Benn Robinson. A final decision on the match day 22 will be made before the game.
A win on Saturday would see the NSW outfit move to four wins from eight matches and could see them top the Australian Conference at the half way mark, with both the Brumbies and Reds facing tough away matches against the top two South African sides in the Bulls and Stormers. The fourth-placed Rebels need a victory to boost their chances of breaking into the top half of the ladder.
Armed Forces Night, Saturday also sees a return to the field for Drew Mitchell, who will run the water on for older brother Zane’s Army XV as they take on a Navy XV in a fitting curtain raiser. Drew will also manage the replacements bench and will determine whether to give his other brother Bronsen a run in the latter stages.
Four days before Anzac Day, the HSBC Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels will contest the Weary Dunlop Shield. It is the fourth time the teams will have played for the shield that was named in honour of Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop, who represented Australia and Victoria in rugby union and served as a medical officer in World War II.
In 2012 this special match will also recognise and honour those from NSW and Victoria who served and who currently serve, including 388 New South Wales Rugby Union men who lost their lives in World War I, among them the President of the NSWRU, Major James McManamey.
Armed Forces Night also gives players from both states the chance to remember and honour the spirit and inspiration that Weary Dunlop embodied as a medical officer in World War II, especially the time he spent as a prisoner of war throughout the construction of the Thailand- Burma railway.
As well as the curtain raiser between the Army and Navy, the evening will also see a special half time performance from the Navy Band, the playing of the Last Post by the Navy bugler, a reading of the oath and a moment’s silence to honour the fallen.
HSBC WARATAHS v Melbourne Rebels
15. Bernard Foley (Sydney University)
14. Tom Kingston (Sydney University)
13. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)
12. Tom Carter (Sydney University)
11. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs)
10. Berrick Barnes (Sydney University), vice captain
9. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs)
8. Wycliff Palu (Manly)
7. Chris Alcock (Eastwood)
6. Dave Dennis (Sydney University)
5. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts)
4. Dean Mumm (Sydney University)
3. Sekope Kepu (Randwick)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (Parramatta)
1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood), captain
Rocky Elsom (Randwick)
Daniel Halangahu (Sydney University)
Jono Jenkins (Sydney University)
Sarel Pretorius (Gordon)
Paddy Ryan (Sydney University)
Lopeti Timani (Southern Districts)
Sitaleki Timani (Southern Districts
John Ulugia (Southern Districts)