After five games in the regular season, the Chiefs were rock bottom in the New Zealand conference and lost their star fullback, Damian McKenzie. On the other hand, the Rebels were the form team in the Australian conference.
The Melbourne Rebels have extended Dave Wessels contract until the end of 2021 after he made enormous strides with the Super Rugby strugglers last year.
Freshly signed for two more seasons, Dave Wessels says the Super Rugby playoffs are a minimum requirement for the Melbourne Rebels this year.
South African-born Wessels will now remain in charge until at least the end of 2021 and will aim to build on last year’s heart-breaking ninth placing, when only points differential denied the Rebels a maiden playoff berth.
It was a vast improvement from a year earlier when the Rebels claimed the wooden spoon under predecessor Tony McGahan but Wessels won’t rest on his laurels.
The former Western Force head coach said the pain of last year’s finish, having sat inside the top eight for most of the season, had hung over him for months.
“We’ve looked pretty hard at our game. The disappointment on missing out at the last hurdle, that really stung,” Wessels told AAP.
“The reality is, we made a lot of mistakes last year so the only way we’re going to close the gap between ninth and where we ultimately want to finish will depend on if the guys really want to do that.”
Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson said it was straightforward decision to extend the contract a year early.
He said the 35-year-old was a coach in demand elsewhere following last season’s vibrant campaign.
“The transformation of this club into a genuine high performance Rugby program during Dave’s tenure is nothing short of remarkable,” Stephenson said.
“His ability to inspire those around him, from assistant coaches to players and backroom staff, is a testament to the leader he is and he is still his own hardest taskmaster.”