Try telling Dave Wessels the Melbourne Rebels don’t belong in a downsized Super Rugby competition now.
After having his position questioned a fortnight ago, Wessels took aim at the doubters after the Rebels completed their first ever season double over the NSW Waratahs with a resounding 29-10 victory on Friday night.
With New Zealand pushing for only two or three Australian sides in a remodelled ten-team competition in 2021, the Rebels have typically been the forced team touted as most likely under threat.
But after breaking through for their maiden win of the new domestic competition, Wessels came out swinging at suggestions the Rebels may have to go.
“I’m not sure where all this talk keeps coming from about the Rebels because everyone I’ve spoken to in Australia, the comments that they’ve made, they’ve been pretty definitive about,” he said.
“And my view on it is very simple, which is every big city in Australia deserves to have a Super Rugby team and we live in one of the best economies in the world and if we’re talking about having to shrink to compete, it’s just the wrong conversation to be having.
“The conversation we should be having is how do we build the best franchise rugby competition in the world and how we build a version of IPL rugby and build that not only for the best Australian players but also for the best global players.
“How do we bring the Maro Itojes of the world and those sort of guys to Australia and make a product that’s really desirable for broadcasters and fans.
“I get a bit tired, to be honest, of this constant, sort of negativity around the game in Australia. It’s quite draining actually, to be honest.”
With a 19-point haul from the Wallabies’ five-eighth-in-waiting Matt Toomua, the Rebels dominated the disappointing Waratahs at the SCG.
Wessels’ men also trumped the Tahs 24-10 before the suspension of Super Rugby proper in March, meaning Friday night’s triumph marked the first time in the franchise’s ten-year existence they have toppled their NSW rivals twice in a season.
“I’m very proud of that,” Wessels said.
“In particular with our young forwards.”