Rebels coach eyes Super finals in 2013
Melbourne Rebels coach Damien Hill says he’d be disappointed with anything less than Super Rugby finals football next season.
The Rebels, playing in their second season, finished with four wins and almost toppled the competition front-runners, the Stormers, in their last-round match in Cape Town.
Speaking at their end-of-season awards, Hill said he expected more next season.
The Rebels have recruited Wallabies backrower Scott Higginbotham from Queensland to join fellow Test stars James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale.
“I’d be disappointed if we weren’t competing in finals football next year and I think a lot of people at the club would be but it’s easy to say that sort of stuff,” Hill said.
“I will be disappointed if we don’t compete.”
While they only managed one extra win in 2012, Hill said there were some notable improvements on their debut season.
“If you look at the stats there, the fact that we scored over 80 points more than last year and we conceded on average one try less than last year and finished in seven games within a nine-point band.
“There’s enough to think we’re heading in the right direction but we need to convert a number of those games into wins.”
Welshman Gareth Delve won the Rebels’ highest honour at their end of season awards after backing out of a French deal so he could remain at the fledgling club for a third year.
Delve was set to play with Toulon but managed to negotiate terms to stay in Melbourne.
Delve won the Rod Macqueen Pursuit of Excellence award in their ceremony at Crown Casino in Melbourne.
The popular 29-year-old, who was called into the Welsh squad for the recent tour of Australia, also won the People’s Choice award.
Retiring Wallabies hooker Adam Freier won an award for the player that best engages in all aspects of the community, schools, clubs, charity, and business programme, while Mark Gerrard won the try of the year and Cadeyrn Neville, who was called into the Test squad in his debut season, was the rookie of the year.
As well as Freier, the club bade farewell to retirees skipper Stirling Mortlock, Al Campbell and Michael Lipman while a number of other players – Adam Byrnes (Russia), Tom Chamberlain (New Zealand), Mark Gerrard (Japan), Julian Huxley (France) and James Hilgendorf – are departing.© AAP 2013
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