Rebels coach coy on his Super playmaker
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Spoilt for choice, Melbourne Rebels coach Damien Hill isn’t revealing which of his gun playmakers will line up at No.10 for this Super Rugby season.
Hill can call on current Wallabies five-eighth Kurtley Beale or James O’Connor, who has finally overcome the hamstring trouble which cruelled his 2012 Test campaign and has put his hand up for the job.
O’Connor thrived in the role on Australia’s 2011 European tour but hasn’t had much opportunity to prove himself there since due to injury.
“James can play wing, 15, 12, 10 and KB (Beale) can play 10 and 15 as well,” Hill said.
“It’s going to be what’s best for the team.
“They combine really well so they will be together out there and the two main voices.”
While Brumbies coach Jake White plans to play his strongest side from the outset, Hill said his best line-up was far from settled ahead of their opening-round clash with the Western Force on February 15.
The Rebels have two trials; against NSW in Hobart on Saturday February 2 and then against the Hurricanes in Geelong a week later with all members of the squad set to get a run.
“Competition for spots this year is the most we’ve had which is a fantastic position to be in, even if it creates a few headaches,” Hill said.
“The trial matches will be used to fight for positions so they’ll be very valuable for us.
“Thankfully we’ve got 34 of our 35 fit and ready to go so we’ve got a lot of combinations and we’re working through how we’re going to play them.”
Kiwi Jason Woodward could be the new face in the backline at fullback, where he starred for the Lions in last year’s ITM Cup.
The former New Zealand under-20s representative has a big boot which the Rebels need after losing veteran Mark Gerrard to Japanese club rugby.
The forward pack will also have some new faces with Wallaby backrower Scott Higginbotham joining Melbourne from the Reds.
As well as Higginbotham, another recruit – Kiwi Scott Fuglistaller – who had a stint with the Highlanders late in the 2012 Super season, is set to get first crack at No.7, combining with skipper No.8 Gareth Delve in a formidable backrow.© AAP 2013