Dissection of the 2013 Australian Super Rugby squads – Melbourne Rebels

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    We continue our overview of the Australian Super Rugby teams and their chances for 2013 with a look at the Melbourne Rebels.

    Best team

    1. Laurie Weeks
    2. Ged Robinson
    3. Paul Alo-Emile
    4. Hugh Pyle
    5. Cadeyrn Neville
    6. Scott Higginbotham
    7. Jarrod Saffy
    8. Gareth Delve
    9. Nick Phipps
    10. Kurtley Beale
    11. Cooper Vuna
    12. Rory Sidey
    13. Mitch Inman
    14. Kimami Situati
    15. James O’Connor

    16. Shota Horie
    17. Eddie Aholelei
    18. Chris Thomson
    19. Luke Jones
    20. Richard Kingi
    21. Bryce Hegarty
    22. Angus Roberts

    Other members
    23. Nic Henderson
    24. James King
    25. Scott Fuglistaller
    26. Tim Davidson
    27. Nic Stirzaker
    28. Lachlan Mitchell
    29. Jason Woodward
    30. Alex Rokobaro

    Extended playing squad
    31. Pat Leafa – hooker
    32. Cruze Ah-Nau – prop
    33. Trent Dyer – No 8
    34. Jordy Reid – openside
    35. Tom English – centre

    In
    S Higginbotham, R Sidey, K Situai, E Aholelei, C Thomson, J Woodward, A Roberts, L Fuglistaller, N Stirzaker, A Rokobaro, B Hegarty

    Out
    Rodney Blake, Jono Owen, Adam Frier, Heath Tessman, Alister Campbell, Adam Byrnes, Michael Lipman, Danny Cipriani, Stirling Mortlock, Mark Gerrard, Tom Chamberlain, Julian Huxley, James Hilgendorf, Lloyd Johannson

    Season chances
    The Rebels will be banking on their big names to perform if they want to make an impact on this competition. Unfortunately they seem to again be lacking up front, which will not give them a strong basis for their big money backline.

    The Phipps/Beale combo has received some much needed game time together and they appear to be developing a strong understanding of each other’s game. If they can get some front foot ball, this team will upset a few big names this season.

    Predicted finish – conference fourth – overall 11th

    Key Player
    The Rebels seem to be missing a range of fetchers for 2013 and will be heavily reliant on Jarrod Saffy, who has not been in the traditional fetcher role in his past two years. He has been a strong performer for the Rebels and has narrowly missed out on Wallabies selection in past years. I am predicting Saffy’s biggest year, as he will benefit greatly from being part of such a strong backrow.

    Up and comer
    Paul Alo-Emile has not had any Super Rugby game time, but he has proved his worth in the Junior Wallabies system. He will need to step straight into the big time, as the Rebels are without much fire power up front. At 20, Alo-Emile is only an apprentice prop at scrum time, but does appear to have a bright future ahead of him.

    Also keep an eye out for Bryce Hegarty who has chosen to join the Rebels after spending some time in the Broncos development squad. Bryce was touted as a future star for the Broncos, however I think he has made the right choice and learning off O’Connor and Beale will be great for his overall game.

    Best buy
    Scott Higginbotham is a fantastic acquisition for the Rebels and will form one of the most unlikely but best backrows with Saffy and Delve. He is strong, skilful and a handful in attack and defence. How he performs in a pack with a much weaker platform than the Queensland Reds will really determine his worth.

    Biggest loss
    The Rebels have relied heavily on a core of senior players to set a platform for the team and culture since their induction. Unfortunately this is where the torch must now be passed and the team looks to be significantly lacking in experience. However, this may work in the Rebels’ favour, similar to the ACT Brumbies last year, as an unknown entity.

    When it comes down to the biggest loss, I think that Mark Gerrard was one of the best backs last year and was highly underrated by the Wallabies selectors. His boot and ability to turn nothing into opportunity will be missed by both fans and the Rebels.

    Have Your Say



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    The Crowd Says (56)

    • Roar Guru

      January 7th 2013 @ 8:20am
      Who Needs Melon said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      The Rebels dilemma is that they don’t have a (good) specialist 10. Neither Bale nor JOC have played most of their professional career at 10 and most would agree it’s not their best position. Not yet at least.

      I personally think Beale is far, FAR better at fullback and I’d be putting him there. I think JOC deserves some time at 12 – I think that could be his best position. But, given the hole at 10, I’d be trying him there instead of Beale. I can see some chopping and changing at this position as the season wears on.

      Forwards (excluding front row) seem pretty darn good to me. The team has a bit of a Force feel about it.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 8:29am
        Jutsie said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        Beale performed better than either JOC or cipriani in his few games at 10 (vs bulls, crusaders, force) for the rebels last year however he probably wont be playing at 10 for the wallabies so I’d like to see him back at his best position of 15.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 9:39am
        Selector said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        I I do like Beale at 15 as well, he is much better with space, but I think they should initially try to utilise the Phipps/Beale combonation that started to take shape for the Wallabies towards the back end of last year.

        • Roar Guru

          January 7th 2013 @ 10:22am
          Who Needs Melon said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          It’s exactly these conundrums that I fear will be a problem for the Rebels. Rather than the existence of options being a plus, it will promote chopping and changing, ego clashes, an unsettled back line and spill into players being played out of position at Wallaby level.

          Sorry to be a negative nelly. Hopefully they prove me dead wrong. I’m sure they will get together before the season and agree that since many haven’t played for a while, it will take time for things to come good and, regardless of results, they should choose a combination and stick to it and support each other.

          • January 7th 2013 @ 11:01am
            Selector said | January 7th 2013 @ 11:01am | ! Report

            Your not being negative at all Melon, I think the Australian coach should sit down with each state team and tell them where he would like certain players to be played in the interest of national selection. Obviously they also have to take into consideration the best thing for each team, but still those discussions should take place.

            Australian Rugby has fallen into a style of picking the best backs, not always picking the best backline.

            • January 7th 2013 @ 12:49pm
              rl said | January 7th 2013 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

              worth checking G&GR for Scott Allen’s dissection of who he thinks should be at 10 for the Wallabies on (or, should I say, running the Wallabies attack), very interesting.

              I do agree that the Rebs looked OK with Kurtley at 10, but I think he has more limitations than positives there overall. Kurtley has a great running and short passing game, but he also stands too deep, has a pretty average long passing game, and his kicking decisions are terrible. His best position for the Wallabies is 15, so why not play him there for the Rebels? (plus if JOC is at 10 the two can alternate between 10 & 15 during a game anyway)

              My perfect world would see Hegarty emerge as a viable 10, allowing JOC to play 12, and Kurtley at 15. But that might be too much to ask of Hegarty, so JOC at 10.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2013 @ 10:25pm
        sheek said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:25pm | ! Report

        Hi Melon,

        I disagree about Beale not being desirable on the grounds he can might be exposed at test level at 10, but he can get away with it at super level.

        Obviously it works better for the Rebels with Beale at 10 & ‘Boy Brand’ at 15.

      • January 12th 2013 @ 2:16pm
        Crazy Horse said | January 12th 2013 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

        The Force have four specialist number 10s, all of them better than Beale at 10.

    • Roar Guru

      January 7th 2013 @ 8:48am
      stillmissit said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      Beale to remain at 5/8 and I would rather see JOC inside centre than FB. The problems are up front and in the centres and JOC at 12 would help this, although I have no idea who could play FB (a critical position in My Book). Will end up battling with Force again this season but with better results overall.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 9:10am
        Jutsie said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        I dont know how good these blokes are but from my research I believe jason woodward, alex rokabaro and bryce hegarty have all had experience at 15. Hegarty has also played 5/8

        • January 7th 2013 @ 9:21am
          Boomeranga said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:21am | ! Report

          Angus Roberts was 15 and 10 for Sydney Uni this year as well. At that level he looked good in the few tv games I watched.

          • January 7th 2013 @ 1:26pm
            Snakebite Jacobs said | January 7th 2013 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

            I agree he is a good prospect and can make a break. Probably too inexperienced for a s15 start, but could be a good later in the season

      • January 7th 2013 @ 9:42am
        Selector said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Who would you play at 15? Be interesting to see if Hegarty would be up to the task, although I haven’t seen enough of him to know how would perform at this level.

        • January 7th 2013 @ 9:45am
          Jutsie said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          Im not a league follower so havent seen much of him. Did he get much game time at the broncos?

          • January 7th 2013 @ 10:01am
            Selector said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:01am | ! Report

            From memory I think he was a very handy playmaker and knew his way to the try line (I didn’t watch too much Under 20’s). To be honest I have more been listning to the hype, which had him touted as the next long term Half back for the Broncos and a future superstar.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 8:48am
      Boomeranga said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      Front row and centres seem their weakness. Hopefully Luke Jones and Stirzacker get lots of game time.

    • Roar Pro

      January 7th 2013 @ 10:07am
      Gav said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      Hegarty is part of the EPS also, we have a 6 player EPS this season.

      Beale at 10 every day of the week, we play our best with him there.

      Jury will be out for Saffy, considering his neck injury last year. Lets hope he can get back to his best, a tackling machine ala. of 2011.

      Continue to watch Vuna, each season he begins to become that X-Factor and learns the nuances of the game.

      As long as we beat the Tahs in Sydney, and win overseas, I’ll be happy to play it by ear.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 10:26am
      hog said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:26am | ! Report

      I think depth could be the issue, hopefully competitive but once the injuries start that will be the test.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 11:48am
      nickoldschool said | January 7th 2013 @ 11:48am | ! Report

      On paper, looks like another year of transition for the Rebels. The only positive is that being part of the Australian conference they are a chance as there are many question marks in other franchises behind the Reds.

      I still don’t see these guys beating the Tahs and Brumbies but who knows with these two.

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