Rebels rein in buzz over early Super form

By Melissa Woods,

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136 Have your say

    Melbourne Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson got a sense that something special was brewing at the Super Rugby club during the pre-season.

    But even he’s been surprised by the domination of the new-look Rebels, who sit on top of the entire Super Rugby standings after their undefeated start to the year.

    It’s in stark contrast to last year when they managed just one win and finished dead last.

    With the influx of a dozen Western Force players as well as their coach Dave Wessels after their club was cut from the downsized competition and the addition of Test halfback Will Genia, the Rebels were always going to be a much stronger outfit.

    Their early-season dominance has answered questions about how quickly they would be able to gel as a unit after coming together with such divided loyalties.

    “It was a little bit of an unknown but I just know that I’ve seen a lot of pre-seasons and I think Dave and the coaching staff, they work particularly hard to maximise every session available,” Stephenson said on Tuesday.

    “I had a feeling that we’d start well but possibly slightly surprised that we’ve been as clinical as we have. But the quality of the players and the way Dave wants to play, we’ve had complete buy-in and I think the guys are enjoying their football.”

    Stephenson said it was pleasing to see that Wessels aside, it wasn’t just the impact of the Force players proving the difference with 2017 Rebels such as Reece Hodge, Jack Maddocks, Amanaki Mafi and Tom English big contributors to the success.

    The Rebels can make a complete a clean sweep of their Australian rivals with a victory against the Waratahs on Sunday in Sydney.

    Stephenson said it would give Melbourne a very handy lead in the conference if they could upset the highly-rated Tahs.

    “They will be our biggest challenge with four of the top players in the country in their side,” he said.

    “It would be huge in regards to getting through the first four rounds and our Australian conference if we can somehow manage a win and would set our season up well.”

    But the boss wasn’t allowing himself to get carried away after only three games.

    He said there was still work to do to improve crowd numbers, commercial partnerships and the connection with the community.

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (136)

    • March 14th 2018 @ 2:14am
      Malo said | March 14th 2018 @ 2:14am | ! Report

      How good is Maddocks

      • March 14th 2018 @ 10:13am
        Fionn said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

        Future Larkham? Let us hope.

        • March 14th 2018 @ 11:10am
          Paul said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:10am | ! Report

          It would be nice if he got more minutes. But I guess at least he is getting minutes as opposed to the Hamish Stewart at the Reds.

          • March 14th 2018 @ 2:06pm
            jameswm said | March 14th 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

            The Reds have two other 10s in their 23.

            It’d be nice to see Maddocks given some time at 10, once the Rebels have a game in the bag – like about the 30 minute mark this Sunday.

            • March 14th 2018 @ 2:50pm
              Paul D said | March 14th 2018 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

              My point about Hamish is that he was anointed the heir to the red 10 jersey and despite riding the pine for all 3 games this year he is yet to take off the tracksuit.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 8:38pm
                Malo said | March 14th 2018 @ 8:38pm | ! Report

                Perfect time to put Maddocks at 10 now , esp with Genia playing so well. It’s time to see if this could work. Otherwise Foley should remain 10.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 14th 2018 @ 2:58pm
          Kirky said | March 14th 2018 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

          Fionn! ~Falls off chair laughing!!

    • Roar Guru

      March 14th 2018 @ 6:07am
      Timbo (L) said | March 14th 2018 @ 6:07am | ! Report

      Sounds like a bit of Spin with only “Rebels” players mentioned. Detracts a bit from the importance of having players from a team that was a close second to the Brumbies last year
      It is good to see that there is optimism without arrogance. Nobody is saying that they are going to beat the Kiwis and they have a long way to go, but you can tell there is a quiet confidence and self belief growing.

      It was also good to see Baden acknowledge that making the club commercially viable is an important step toward survival;. They were always going to win the Aussie conference, Bookies and Tahs fans were the ones that couldn’t see it coming. it is just a question of whether or not they can do it without going bankrupt. Which, I hope for the teams sake they can do.

      • Roar Guru

        March 14th 2018 @ 8:25am
        Train Without A Station said | March 14th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        Why wouldn’t only Rebels players be mentioned?

        The point was they are saying existing players have been big contributors to the success…

        • Roar Guru

          March 14th 2018 @ 10:00pm
          Timbo (L) said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:00pm | ! Report

          All players have been big contributors to the success.
          They are a team now and by publicly singling players out by their origin is not a good message,
          Leave that vitriol to us.
          It is also a slippery slope because most of the font line players come from somewhere else. It will only be the Haylett Petty’s, Hardwick, Faulkner, Ulese and one or 2 others that aren’t originally from the heartland or overseas

          • Roar Guru

            March 15th 2018 @ 12:35pm
            Train Without A Station said | March 15th 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

            You completely miss the point…

            Those others have been given all the credit by the notion that the influx of players caused the improvement. Those players are mentioned to challenge this notion that it’s all about the new players…

            • March 16th 2018 @ 8:48am
              KFar said | March 16th 2018 @ 8:48am | ! Report

              Maybe it has something to do with the new coach.

      • Roar Guru

        March 14th 2018 @ 10:48am
        jeznez said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        Most of us talked up the Rebels and Brumbies as the likely conference leaders. In that context the Brumbies have been the biggest disappointment so far, albeit with a few key forwards to return.

        • Roar Guru

          March 14th 2018 @ 1:15pm
          PeterK said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

          I specifically stated preseason (before rona’s signing) that the tahs would not beat 1 nz or sa side and only beat sunwolves , 50/50 with jagueres and the reds.

          That they would finish 2nd or 3rd last in the comp overall.

          Yeh I really talked them up….

      • Roar Guru

        March 14th 2018 @ 1:02pm
        PeterK said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

        why the undeserving slight against tah fans?

        I did not read any posts from tah fans saying they would top the oz conference this year.

        If you did I am sure they were in the minority.

        You have a real chip on your shoulder about the tahs and their fans.

        Since Stephenson specifically said it wasn’t just wessels and the force players of course it would be only rebels players he mentioned, it followed logically. Looking for slights where there are none.

        • March 14th 2018 @ 1:17pm
          Phil said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          Yes,PeterK,I also thought it was not necessary to have a shot at Tahs fans,but typical.Blind Freddie could see that the Rebels were going to be the team to beat in the Oz conference and,like you,I didn’t see any Tahs fans talking up there chances.Just the opposite in fact,and I think most Tahs fans would be happy with only one loss in the first three games.Rebels should win this weekend,but I wouldn’t mind seeing an upset!

        • Roar Guru

          March 14th 2018 @ 10:38pm
          Timbo (L) said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:38pm | ! Report

          That is an easy one,

          1. I generalized and should have said: “Many vocal Tahs Fans”
          2. The Roar isn’t the only media source on the internet.
          3. You personally talk up Hoops, Beale and Folau as though they are the worlds best players and should be automatically selected as Wallabies, No merit based assessment needed.
          With players this good, it is easy to conclude that you also have a belief that the Tahs should succeed

          You could claim that they are being brought down by the rest of the players, but the team is actually quite strong with the exception of the props in Kepu’s absence and for all his flaws, Foley is still a serviceable #10

          Scrums going backwards, Breakdowns being counter rucked, Mauls splintering back lines going undefended. What changes would you make to stem this tide?
          Do you use the Cheika method: Blame the Big forwards for not being tough enough and the wingers for not defending the North-South channel strongly enough?

          • Roar Guru

            March 15th 2018 @ 4:56pm
            PeterK said | March 15th 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

            utter rubbish, find one post where I have said either Hooper or Beale are close to world’s best?

            I have always maintained Pocock is better than Hooper and would use Hooper on the bench.

            I have always stated recent intl form is more important than any super rugby form when it comes to selection for intl games.

            I have posted all year that the tahs would finish either 3rd or 4th in the oz conference and lose to all sa and nz teams, but lets not facts get in the way.

            Team is quite weak in a lot of areas , lack of power and physicality in forwards, non creative 10 who makes a lot of errors, and a very poor coach number among them.

      • March 15th 2018 @ 2:19am
        UKKiwi said | March 15th 2018 @ 2:19am | ! Report

        The commercial viability will come with increased crowd numbers. Increased crowd numbers will come if the Rebels keep winning.

    • March 14th 2018 @ 8:38am
      Buddyboy said | March 14th 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      So pleased for the rebels, the whole competition is looking way better ,

      • Roar Guru

        March 14th 2018 @ 11:14am
        pformagg said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        You have to wait until the end of the comp to say that. What happens when Aust teams lose every game against their NZ counterparts again?

        • March 14th 2018 @ 11:51am
          Jacky said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

          But that is not going to happenpfomagg,not this year both Reds and Rebels will make it hard for NZ teams

        • March 17th 2018 @ 11:23am
          Peter Kelly said | March 17th 2018 @ 11:23am | ! Report

          Really like what is happening at Rebels but also waiting for them to face the NZ sides in NZ – we can then really see where we are at, for year 1 of this combined team to be the top Aussie team and get a home final I will be celebrating – total domination next will be fine although if it happens this year i wont be complaining – Go Rebels by 15+ ove Tahs

      • March 14th 2018 @ 1:10pm
        Bakkies said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

        ‘So pleased for the rebels’

        Why? They have bled the game dry. Time for them to cough up out of their own pockets or get out.

        • March 17th 2018 @ 11:34am
          Peter Kelly said | March 17th 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

          Im just a fan who wants to see my team play well and win, its for far smarter than me to run the game and I could careless for the politics – i pay my memberships for myself and family – how someone else wastes the money i have little control over, I am not prepared to get elected for any office, much the same with the other taxes taken from my pocket, at least i choose to pay these ones – not going to change anything from a Roar forum – dont think RA board read or care.

    • March 14th 2018 @ 8:48am
      Ex force fan said | March 14th 2018 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      “He said there was still work to do to improve crowd numbers, commercial partnerships and the connection with the community…..”

      What do you do if you are winning. gave away tickets, selling membership for only $88 and people still don’t turn up?. What do you do when AFL is imoving to finals and your team are losing? Tough job!

    • March 14th 2018 @ 8:56am
      bigbaz said | March 14th 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      I feel a bit ambivalent about the Rebs at the moment , not really convinced they are the real deal, hope I’m wrong but I guess the next few weeks will tell the story.
      As far as commercially viable, RA doesn’t do that at any level.

      • Roar Guru

        March 14th 2018 @ 10:56am
        jeznez said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

        I don’t think you are alone – the commentary has largely focused on them winning the Oz conference. We can get a feel for how they will do overall when they face some of the Kiwi teams and have their road trip.

      • Roar Guru

        March 14th 2018 @ 10:41pm
        Timbo (L) said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:41pm | ! Report

        I think they are the real deal, and the best Australia has to offer.
        The question is are they offering enough to be relevant in the greater SR competition.

    • March 14th 2018 @ 9:00am
      Paul D said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:00am | ! Report

      “and Tahs fans were the ones that couldn’t see it coming”

      The only people talking up the Tahs prospects were Brumbies fans

      • Roar Guru

        March 14th 2018 @ 9:12am
        John R said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        Pretty much every Tahs fan on here has been saying the Tahs are gonna be s–t cause they’ve got no forward runners, and that’s become pretty evident aye.

        But some people just have ideas in their head that they can’t let go of.

        • Roar Guru

          March 14th 2018 @ 9:36am
          Machooka said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

          What you talkin’ about John!?! 🙂

          • Roar Guru

            March 14th 2018 @ 9:57am
            John R said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

            Search your feelings Chook!

            • March 14th 2018 @ 10:04am
              Fionn said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

              Yeah, i think I was the Waratahs’ biggest fan in February.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 10:37am
                jameswm said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

                Wasn’t me!!

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 10:54am
                jeznez said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:54am | ! Report

                Fionn – it was February, it can get to the best of us.

                This year it largely seemed to infect Brumbies fans…. where is Brett? 😀

            • March 14th 2018 @ 11:14am
              MARTO said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

              This comment has been removed for breaching The Roar’s comments policy.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 11:28am
                John R said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:28am | ! Report


              • March 14th 2018 @ 12:08pm
                Jacky said | March 14th 2018 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

                Marto apart from Hooper not one Tah forward should be considered for Wallabies at this point and if Hooper was not captain even he would not head the selection line for openside breakaway.If Robertson is even discussed in the front row then there should be an enquiries into the current selection farce.
                In the backs only a hit and miss Beale and Folau would be genuinely considered by any fair minded selectors.
                If current method of Wallaby selections continue then we will do about as well as the Tahs have done so far this season.
                I hold out some hope that RA will stand up and direct selectors and coaches to change their methods and find some new blood,but I doubt that will happen

              • March 14th 2018 @ 12:11pm
                Jacky said | March 14th 2018 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

                Why was Mart’s comment removed how did it breach anything apart from pointing out who will probably play for the Wallabies unless we get a new method for selections

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 12:35pm
                jeznez said | March 14th 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

                Jacky – he hasn’t played yet but I expect Kepu to be in consideration as well.

                I’m far from a Foley fan but the only other 10 putting in performances to challenge is Lance and he is off at season’s end. Lealiifano and Debreczeni are off the pace in what they are doing so far.

                Full agreement that Robertson’s selection would have to spark an inquiry!

                Slipper and Faulkner both playing better. Sio has only had one game and it was better as well.

                If Tupou continues his form and Kepu hasn’t dropped his standards then Alan Alaalatoa could shift back to LH and be a stronger option as well.

                Harry Johnson-Holmes has been better than Robbo in his cameos. That is six loosehead options all superior to Tom R, Cheika’s stubborness does worry me though.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 1:19pm
                PeterK said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                The Tahs who should be in the 23 are Kepu, Hooper, Folau and Beale.

                Foley should only be on the bench for risk mitigation whilst another option is tried.

                Additionally Simmons should be considered depending on if other locks than Coleman can call the lineout. Who is calling the reds lineout now?

                Also Dempsey may be considered depending on how he returns from injury.

                There are no eligible 6/8’s in oz teams going really well. I would strongly look at Phillips as a 6/lock utility if none come through.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 1:25pm
                Fionn said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

                I thought Rodda was calling it, and the way he’s playing really means Simmons probably shouldn’t be in there.

                Coleman, Rodda and Philip look like the best locks so far.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 4:47pm
                Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | March 14th 2018 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

                “Foley should only be on the bench for risk mitigation whilst another option is tried.”
                My thoughts exactly since mid-2015.
                Apart from the option of the superior skill set of another Test-experienced 10 playing club rugby there is the logical folly of trying the same 2014 battle plan over and over again with the same poor outcomes (mostly) for the last 4 years.
                Occasionally it worked but a busted clock is right for two minutes every day.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 1:24pm
                JP said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

                Jeznez ”

                ” I’m far from a Foley fan but the only other 10 putting in performances to challenge is Lance and he is off at season’s end. Lealiifano and Debreczeni are off the pace in what they are doing so far .”

                Utter Nonsene ! That is the why we still get Foley as our 10 with that attitude.Do you think Jono would stay if he thought he had a chance at Wallaby 10?. Yes, would be his answer. Christian and Debrazeni off the pace ? So what ?. You don`t know what those two could do in a Wallaby Jersey with a better forward pack until you give them a go.We have seen what Foley can do.He has had enough go`s at flyhalf.Give someone else a crack.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 1:29pm
                Fionn said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

                Gotta agree with JP here.

                And I also think that Lealiifano and even Godwin have been two of the better performing Brumbies (not that I’m saying Godwin should be anywhere near the Wallaby 12 jersey, but he’s playing okay).

                We know what we get with Foley, and he is in worse form now than last year.

                Just bite the bullet and make Toomua eligible. How good is the 10-12 defence with 10. Toomua, 12. Hodge?

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 1:31pm
                PeterK said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

                Fionn – Agree then Rodda should displace Simmons.

                The 4 locks in the wallabies squad should be Coleman, Rodda (lineout callers), and 2 out Phillips, Arnold and Tui. Then the faster one of Phillips, Tui should be the 6/lock utility displacing Hanigan.

                6/8 are the real issue this year.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 1:33pm
                jeznez said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

                JP – as I understand Lance has signed a contract. Doubt he added a Wallabies selection get out clause.

                I desperately want someone else, Iwas firmly in the select Cooper camp for years.

                Debreczeni, Lealiifano or someone else (Maddocks, Stewart, Mason???) are going to have to step their games up.

                I had high hopes for CL before the season but he has so far underwhelmed.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 1:34pm
                jeznez said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

                Pete – think Philip ran the lineout for the Rebels on the weekend and it was fine.

                There are plenty of options – I think a number of the Rebels will get upskilled via Parling so we should have a number of guys who can fill that role.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 1:40pm
                Fionn said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

                Think Lealiifano is facing undue criticism due to how poor the Brumbies are. I think he’s one of the few standing up and performing (Powell, McCaffrey and Godwin are the only others I would put in that category).

              • March 14th 2018 @ 2:10pm
                jameswm said | March 14th 2018 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

                Yeah guys I can’t see how Simmons can get close to the Wallabies. Surely Coleman, Arnold, Rodda, Tui and Philip are all well ahead.

                I’d take Coleman and any of the other 4. They’re all going well. Maybe Philip marginally behind.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 2:17pm
                jeznez said | March 14th 2018 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

                I see your team quite differently from you Fionn, agree McCaffrey is playing well.

                Also think Naisarani is doing what is required. Speight had a good game on the weekend.

                I think the speed of recycle from the forwards is a major issue. But I also think Lealiifano and Godwin are not doing enough to create for the men outside them.

                Lealiifano is tending to just shift the ball, Godwin has almost no subtlety to his running. It tends to be step to his left and take the tackle or also shift it on.

                The real go forward in the team is coming from Naisarani and Speight hitting up the edges but with little done to contract the defence inside first.

                The 10/12 have to own a large part of that.

                (would love Matty Toomua back he is predominantly playing 12 though)

              • March 14th 2018 @ 2:27pm
                Fionn said | March 14th 2018 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

                Whoops, agree on Naisarani. Speight was good on the weekend, but it was the first match he played well.

                I’m not saying he is playing great by any stretch, but we’re comparing a 10 throwing intercepts and who cannot defend or kick with one who can at least kick and defend even if he isn’t creating heaps of opportunities. Right now I’d say that Lance is the frontrunner on form, but I definitely don’t think Christian is playing that poorly. Against the Reds he and Godwin created plenty of breaks from near halfway, the team just feel apart near the try-line.

                Toomua has played 10 during the 6 Nations while Ford has been playing for England.

                Word is that Cheika is trying to get Quade to the Rebels.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 3:53pm
                jeznez said | March 14th 2018 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

                So we agree on Lance!

                Don’t think we are actually a million miles away from each other on Foley and Lealiifano either.

                I know Christian can play better than he is – have seen it in the past. I just want a stronger performance from him if he is going to force is way in to the Wallabies.

                And let’s face it – he would have to play hugely better than he is if he is to convince Cheika to make the swiitch.

                Interesting to hear regarding Cheika/Cooper/Rebels. Would certainly imply Maddocks is likely to stay back three for the season.

                My suspicion is that as a Cheika idea it would greatly enhance Cooper’s chances of Wallaby selection (as distinct to his chances when he was at the Reds).

    , ,