Kurtley Beale of the Rebels will play his first match of the year on Saturday in Geelong. Photo: Getty Images
Wallabies star Kurtley Beale will play his first match of the year when he starts at five-eighth for the Melbourne Rebels in Saturday's Super Rugby trial against the Hurricanes in Geelong.
After a gruelling 2012 campaign when he trained and played for 43 successive weeks, Beale was rested from last Saturday's trial game against the Waratahs in Hobart.
The Rebels could have given him another week off ahead of next week's Super Rugby season opener at home to the Western Force.
But with Beale insisting on Wednesday he was "super keen" to play in the game at Simonds Stadium, coach Damien Hill slotted him into the starting line-up.
"Kurtley just wants to play," said Hill.
"He was very keen to do so in Tasmania, and he has done extremely well to put himself in the best physical condition for his teammates for this 2013 season.
"There are so many positions on the line we will need to assess before we announce the run-on side for the Western Force match in February.
"There are very few positions that are currently locked away.
"Many players who weren't seen as starters in 2012 are very close with the off-season they have had and the form they showed against the Waratahs last week."
Marquee recruit Scott Higginbotham is still unavailable due to the shoulder injury he sustained playing for Australia against Wales late last year.
"Scott is not there yet, although he is close," said Hill.
"Back-row is another area where we will have to make some tough decisions. We won't know how that dynamic will look until the end of the match."
Rebels: James O'Connor, Alex Rokobaro, Mitch Inman, Rory Sidey, Lachlan Mitchell, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Gareth Delve, Scott Fuglistaller, Luke Jones, Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Laurie Weeks, Ged Robinson, Nic Henderson. Reserves: Shota Horie/Pat Leafa, Eddie Aholelei/Paul Alo-Emile, James King/Chris Thomson, Trent Dyer/Jordy Reid/Jarrod Saffy, Richard Kingi/Nic Stirzaker, Angus Roberts/Tom English, Kemu Valetini.