MELBOURNE - Teenager Sean McMahon has been handed an early Super Rugby baptism, starting at blindside flanker for the Melbourne Rebels against the Cheetahs tonight.
The 19-year-old McMahon, Australia's youngest-ever Sevens representative, has played only a handful of 15-a-side games in the past two years but impressed Rebels coach Tony McGahan with his potential in the pre-season.
He's one of three players set to get their first taste of Super Rugby as the Rebels begin their campaign against the big and physical Cheetahs at AAMI Park, with halfback Ben Meehan and prop Max Lahiff on the bench.
McMahon admits he is surprised to be starting a game so soon but is determined to capitalise on his opportunity.
"I was a bit stunned, a bit nervous; there were lots of different emotions, but mainly I was excited," McMahon said.
"My mum and aunty are coming down from Brisbane, and I'll have a couple of really good mates there too.
"I'm really happy to be in the run-on side, so I can get straight in and get a feel for it.
"I just want to contribute to a strong first-up performance, and go from there."
Also making their first appearance for the Rebels in Super Rugby will be former All Black Tamati Ellison at outside centre and ex-Chiefs prop Toby Smith, while former Waratahs flyer Tom Kingston, former Crusader Steve Fuala and former Brumbies loose forward Colby Fainga'a are included on the bench.
Jason Woodward, Lachlan Mitchell, Tamati Ellison, Mitch Inman, Tom English, Bryce Hegarty, Luke Burgess, Scott Higginbotham (capt), Scott Fuglistaller, Sean McMahon, Luke Jones, Hugh Pyle, Laurie Weeks, Pat Leafa, Toby Smith:
Steve Fualau, Max Lahiff, Paul Alo-Emile, Cadeyrn Neville, Colby Fainga'a, Ben Meehan, Angus Roberts, Tom Kingston.