Saffy out, Hilgendorf in doubt for Rebels - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saffy out, Hilgendorf in doubt for Rebels

Melissa Woods and Jim Morton 04/05/2011 05:26:09 PM Comments (0)

The Rebels have lost tireless flanker Jarrod Saffy and could face a playmaking crisis with James Hilgendorf in doubt for Friday's clash with Super Rugby heavyweights Queensland.

Saffy was ruled out on Wednesday after injuring his groin at training in a massive blow for Melbourne, who were handed a 50-point hiding when the sides last met.

An NRL premiership player with the Dragons, Saffy has been one of the club's most consistent performers.

His place will be filled by Hoani MacDonald, with the final line-up to be named on Thursday.

Melbourne's first choice No.10 against the Waratahs, Hilgendorf has a shoulder injury and must get through their final training session to play at AAMI Park.

Hilgendorf replaced the out-of-form Danny Cipriani, but the English import can't be called upon after he and Richard Kingi were dumped from the squad after ignoring a team directive not to have a late night after the NSW match.

Cipriani's manager issued a statement saying his charge regretted his actions.

"Danny deeply regrets his behaviour and is as disappointed in himself as anyone," said Emanuele Palladino.

"He wants to draw a line under this now and get on with what he does best, which is play rugby."

It was Cipriani's second offence, after a nightclub incident earlier this season, but coach Rod Macqueen wanted to focus on the game rather than his troubled player.

"It's been handled through the right channels and I'm happy with the result at this stage.

"We really just have to get through this game and that's got to be the team's focus."

Macqueen remained hopeful Hilgendorf would play.

Five-eighth is one position where the Rebels are desperately short in depth with Julian Huxley certain to get the nod should Hilgendorf be ruled out.

"It's subject to him getting through the captain's run but we think he'll be alright," Macqueen said of Hilgendorf.

"He got a knock on it, we think it's more bruising than anything and that's why we think he should be right."

Meanwhile, Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie believes the Rebels have done the right thing in dumping Cipriani and Kingi.

And not just because it means his side won't have to face the livewire duo, who were set to come off the bench.

McKenzie said it was important when setting up a new side that team culture came first.

"It looks to me that they have been pretty decisive," he said.

"They are quality players not involved in the 22 but team culture does come first and they're the tough decisions you have to make along the way and they will get a benefit from making those decisions.

"Obviously it was warranted, they wouldn't have done it otherwise."

McKenzie said the situation could prove a distraction for the Rebels.

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