Rebels ready for Wallabies return


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    The Melbourne Rebels admit they’re in unfamiliar territory as they welcome their Wallabies back into the fold next week.

    Sean McMahon has been the only regular Test player from the ranks of the Super Rugby club but he was joined on the Wallabies’ European tour late last year by Reece Hodge, Lopeti Timani, James Hanson and Sefa Naivalu.

    Melbourne Storm league recruit Marika Koroibete was also in the squad while halfback Nic Stirzaker and prop Toby Smith spent time in camp in Europe.

    Those players are back in training next week with less than a month before their first trial, against the Western Force on the Gold Coast on February 6.

    Coach Tony McGahan is unsure how the contingent will manage their return.

    “They’ve played a lot of rugby so we hope they’re well rested,” McGahan said.

    “That’s probably a bit of new territory for us as usually they’d come back in right at the beginning of January and you’d get five or six weeks preparation before you get into your trials.”

    The Rebels finished 12th in the 2016 Super Rugby standings, their cause not helped by a rash of injuries to key players.

    McGahan said while it affected their on-field performances it also hindered their preparation.

    “Our fitness took a hit because we couldn’t train enough because we didn’t have enough players,” he said.

    “We had 140 training sessions and we had 30 players six times.

    “Whatever sport it is, to have numbers to train and to be able to create competition and simulate game situations is really important.”

    With Mike Harris now playing in France, Melbourne’s five-eighth jersey is up for grabs.

    Reserve halfback Ben Meehan wore the No.10 jersey in the Rebels’ NRC team while ex-Wellington five-eighth Jackson Garden-Bachop is a new signing.

    “We’re not closing anything on that,” McGahan said.

    “Jack Debreczeni has been there the last couple of years and Garden-Bachop has come in and is a good player and young Jack McGregor is a really good young 10.

    “Before Ben hurt his elbow he was playing really well there so we have a few options, which we didn’t have last year.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • January 5th 2017 @ 9:42pm
      jameswm said | January 5th 2017 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

      Rebs queries are at lock and 10. Looking decent elsewhere.

    • January 6th 2017 @ 7:42am
      Redsfan1 said | January 6th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      Rebels talked themselves up big time last year and undelivered. Looks like their coach is making excuses.

      • January 10th 2017 @ 9:01am
        Browny said | January 10th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

        McGahan has never come across as an excuse maker from where I sit. They were ravaged by injury last year but I always got the impression that Grunter didn’t see that as a reason for the poor performances that arose. Pretty sure the Reds where showing a bit of confidence after recent big name signings like O’Connor, Thomson, Hunt, Goromaru, etc and we all know how that panned out. Every club comes in confident at the start of the year and if they’re not making some statements about how well they’re going to go it’s perceived as weakness by the supporters and media. Don’t read too much into preseason press conference or media releases, they’re more or less all the same.

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