The two top teams in the Aussie conference will be clashing on Saturday in Sydney.
The Tahs are coming off a bye and some off-the-field drama and the Rebels from a surprise lost at home against the Stormers.
It looks like it will be these two sides that will fight it out to see who will top the Aussie conference which makes this an important game for both.
The Rebels are on 23 points against the the Tahs 16 points on the log, which means a win for them will give them a huge advantage over the Waratahs.
A lot can still happen in the next few weeks but a win for the Rebels will make it very unlikely for the Waratahs to retake the lead in the conference.
It is a return for Hooper to the side who will run out to his 100th match. Holloway will also celebrate his 50th on Saturday as they come to terms with the Folau drama.
Teams will be playing for the Weary Dunlop Shield on the night, 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.
The Rebels coach Wessels made six changes to his side starting with the return of Anaru Rangi, Jack Maddocks, and lock Matt Philip.
Richard Hardwick, Matt Gibbon and Jermaine Ainsley, replace Angus Cottrell, Tetera Faulkner and Sam Talakai in first XV positions respectively.
For the Waratahs coach Gibson has made four changes to his run-on side.
Beale will come in for Folau with Gordon replacing Phipps at nine.
In the forwards Hooper is back to lead the team as well as Holloway replacing Hanigan at lock.
Some Interesting Facts (OPTA)
- The NSW Waratahs have won 13 of their 15 Super Rugby meetings with the Rebels, with the NSW squad picking up four wins on the bounce against the Melbourne side most recently
- The Rebels are searching for a third consecutive victory on the road against fellow Australian teams, only once before have they won three such games on the bounce (February-July 2016).
- The Waratahs have averaged 39 points scored against Australian sides from their last five home games in Super Rugby, including scores of 50 and 51 against the Rebels
- The Rebels completed just 64% of their tackles in the last round against the Stormers, their lowest ever rate in a Super Rugby match.
- Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs, 102) and Luke Jones (Rebels, 94) have made more tackles than anyone else in Super Rugby 2019 so far.
Prediction: Struggle to see Tahs winning this one even at home, Rebels by 12
Waratahs – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Tuala, 17 Rory O’Connor, 18 Chris Talakai, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Will Miller, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Curtis Rona.
Rebels – 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English (c), 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Sione Tuipulotu.