Melbourne Rebels boss Baden Stephenson has doused any suggestion of a Super Rugby boycott from his players, guaranteeing they are all locked in for what could be more than a fortnight away from home to relaunch the season.
Wallabies outside back Dane Haylett-Petty will captain Melbourne Rebels again as the Victorian club strives for a first Super Rugby finals spot.
Entering their tenth season Melbourne have never logged more than seven wins, a tally they have achieved in four of their last five campaigns, some of which they started well only to fade in the closing stages.
Haylett-Petty, who plays winger or fullback, retains the role he held in 2019.
“Last year I took over just before round one, it felt like I was winging it a bit,” Haylett-Petty said.
“I definitely learnt a whole lot of lessons as the whole team did.
“But we’ve talked a lot about being a start up (franchise) and we’re only ten years old and being innovative.
“I feel like the leaders have had a lot of say, taken a lot of control, a lot of responsibility, a lot of ownership, we’ve had a lot of fun with it.
“The big strength for us is the stability we’ve got. It’s the first time we’ve had in our ten-year history the same chairman, CEO, head coach, captain, all the coaching staff are the same.
“We’re just building from a strong foundation.”
Haylett-Petty felt the Rebels’ 2020 roster had a lot of depth.
“I think the Rebels have done a really good job in their off-season in terms of recruiting,” the 30-year-old said.
“We’ve lost some young guys but we’ve replaced them with a lot of Super Rugby experience.
“Guys like Wellsy (backrower Michael Wells), (back Andrew) Kellaway, (halfback) Ryan Louwrens.
“They are going to add a lot to our season.
“We used the least number of players in Super Rugby last year and I really think we’ve got a lot of depth to get us through this season.”
The Rebels play the Brumbies in a trial in Albury on Thursday before starting their Super campaign against Japan’s Sunwolves in Fukuoka on Saturday week.
Melbourne’s Super W side will have co-captains, with PNG international and new recruit Mel Kawa joining 2019 skipper Meretiana Robinson.