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Rebels drop Woodward for Lions clash

Friday, July 04, 2014

Update: 9:09AM Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan says he's dropped the club's top point-scorer Jason Woodward for Saturday's 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.

Meanwhile, flanker Scott Fuglistaller has been named to start in place of Sean McMahon, who is away with the Commonwealth Games Sevens squad.

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