Rebels coach coy on his Super playmaker

By Melissa Woods,

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102 Have your say

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (102)

    • January 19th 2013 @ 6:56am
      The no. Three said | January 19th 2013 @ 6:56am | ! Report

      I hope the Rebels can become a strong franchise, their new recruits should assist in catapulting them into semi finals contention this year. Like to see K Beale as flyhalf over there.

      • January 21st 2013 @ 12:42am
        Malo said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:42am | ! Report

        You must be on the wacky backy

    • January 19th 2013 @ 9:50am
      jutsie said | January 19th 2013 @ 9:50am | ! Report

      As a rebels supporter I want to see brake at 10 and O’Connor at 12 but as a wallabies supporter I’d prefer brake at 15

    • Roar Guru

      January 19th 2013 @ 9:53am
      El Gamba said | January 19th 2013 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      JOC has to sort out his haircut before he can be a serious option anywhere on the park.

    • January 19th 2013 @ 9:56am
      Hightackle said | January 19th 2013 @ 9:56am | ! Report

      9) Phipps
      10) Beale
      11) Vuna
      12) Mitchell
      13) Inman
      14) Woodward
      15) JOC

      • January 19th 2013 @ 3:17pm
        Justin2 said | January 19th 2013 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

        Well at least Mitchell won’t let in tries in his corner all year if he plays in the centers 😉

        • January 20th 2013 @ 3:03am
          Hightackle said | January 20th 2013 @ 3:03am | ! Report

          Mitchell almost played as much in the centre as he did on the wing in 2012.

      • January 19th 2013 @ 3:59pm
        Underarm said | January 19th 2013 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

        Atleast IM not the only one who thInks that JOC shold be fullbacK, He Can Catch pass kick great in defence and wil be awsome at running the ball back. Leave Beal at 10

    • January 19th 2013 @ 9:58am
      Blinky Bill of Bellingen said | January 19th 2013 @ 9:58am | ! Report

      “Gun Playmakers”? Not entirely sure that’s how I’d be describing either KB or JOC. Adequate fill-in 10’s would be my thoughts.

      Do other top flight Rugby nations have the same practice of playing players out of their best position or is the talent more evenly spread?

      • January 19th 2013 @ 2:13pm
        colvin said | January 19th 2013 @ 2:13pm | ! Report


        You are so right. This business of Barnes, O’Connor, Beale, Ashly-Cooper, Ioane, and many others playing all over and not specialising in one position is very detrimental to WB rugby. A certain amount of players positional change is possible, if well thought out, but not the wholesale changes that occur in Aus rugby. For example, Nonu was all over the backline before specialising at second five. Cory Jane was fullback but was moved to right wing. If a player is good he can probably play in all backline positions. But there has to be a position which is best for him.

        Even Link tried out Genia at flyhalf which turned out to be not his best position.

        And when contributors on Roar are constantly coming up with new proposed positions for existing players it confuses things even more for the loyal rugby tragics who want to see their team play at its very best and not riddled by uncertainty.

        For what it’s worth Cooper’s best rugby is at flyhalf. Barnes at inside centre. Ashley-Cooper at outside centre. O’Connor at right wing. Ioane at left wing. Beale at fullback. If someone is a better inside centre than Barnes then so be it. He gets the position and Barnes is on the sideline. (though I like Barnes at fullback but after Beale)

        Honey Badger’s best position is wing not centre.

        There was one classic positional move by the Welsh coaches many years ago. Many may remember JPR Williams as a great fullback. Well the Welsh in their wisdom played JPR once in an international at flanker. He was lost.

        Now here I go. Higginbotham’s best position would be wing. Australia’s Lomu.

        • January 20th 2013 @ 11:10am
          Lindommer said | January 20th 2013 @ 11:10am | ! Report

          JPR Williams played on the side of the scrum in the last match of an Australian tour in the 70s because there were no other fit forwards to select. Added to that was JPR’s impish desire to play at least one game for Wales in the forwards. He made a fair fist of it if I recall correctly.

          • January 20th 2013 @ 6:03pm
            Colvin said | January 20th 2013 @ 6:03pm | ! Report


            Thanks for your info on JPR. I was relying on memory but with your added input I did some research and found that he played number 8 in the first test (out of two) in the 1978 Welsh tour of Australia, at Sydney. Aus won 19-17. JPR marked Greg Cornelsen.

            I couldn’t find any more news and I didn’t want to spend all day searching but I do recall as you say he played in the forwards because of injuries in the team. I also recall people gave him credit for his efforts on the day but frankly can you imagine how JPR went playing in an international against seasoned forwards in the Wallaby team.

            It couldn’t happen today, of course, but the point I was making was that players really do need to play their best positions as often as they can and not allow their egos to overly influence their brain matter.

            Concerning JPR, notwithstanding the reason given JPR shouldn’t have played an international in the forwards. There had to be a better alternative.

        • January 20th 2013 @ 10:03pm
          Louis said | January 20th 2013 @ 10:03pm | ! Report

          Higginbotham should never play for the Wallabies, he is a seagull who stands on the wing and chip kicks and does very little work around the park

          • January 20th 2013 @ 10:29pm
            Dadiggle said | January 20th 2013 @ 10:29pm | ! Report

            Pierre Spies 2.0

    • January 19th 2013 @ 10:04am
      kingplaymaker said | January 19th 2013 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      BBB Australia seems capable mainly of developing 10s, rarely strike runners and very rarely large strike runners. Why? Probaby because the strike runner and large strike runner are the most in demand athletes from the NRL, and they walk away with the cream leaving rugby with the crumbs (i.e. JOC rejected for being too small).

      • January 19th 2013 @ 5:17pm
        Rachel said | January 19th 2013 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

        I agree with your comment about strike runners in demand in the NRL. As a huge League fan myself, I always wonder how League outside-backs such as Greg inglis, Jarryd Hayne, Justin Hodges, Billy Slater, Ben Barba, Jamal Idris, Michael jennings plus many more would fair at Rugby. We already saw how SBW converted, now all eyes will be on Izzy Folau this year.

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