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Horan's 'soft' whack for Rebels pack as Fisher calls out their 'absolutely criminal' flaw in Brumbies loss

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28th February, 2024
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Tim Horan has slammed the Rebels forward pack as “soft”, while Laurie Fisher called out their “criminal” flaw after their dispiriting 30-3 loss to the ACT Brumbies.

The Rebels have been doing it tough of the field with speculation around the club’s future. That increased on Wednesday with speculation they could be replaced by Argentina based Jaguares from next season.

Horan, speaking on Stan Sport’s Rugby Heaven, was critical of the Rebels in the wake of some big signings.

“I thought the Rebels were really poor,” Horan said.

“I spoke a couple of weeks leading into the competition that I thought Nick Stiles (Rebels general manager of rugby) had his fingerprints all over this team. (Taniela) Tupou, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, (Filipo) Daugunu. I thought this is as good a list that the Rebels have had.

Rob Leota of the Rebels reacts after the Rebels loss to the Brumbies during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, on February 23, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

“They were poor and the forward pack of the Rebels was as soft as I’ve seen them. So I really hope they bounce back this weekend because Andrew Kellaway at fullback was the only shining light for that Rebels team.”

Horan said it was clear that the off field drama was “certainly having an effect on the players’ mindset.

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“Where am I going to be next year? Where can I play? I’m ringing the manager – can I go offshore, is someone else in Super Rugby going to pick me up? It’s playing on their mind.”

Former Wallabies assistant coach Fisher told The Roar Rugby Podcast that the Rebels execution was well below acceptable standard.

“I look at the Rebels on Friday night and 16 A-zone entries for a penalty goal – that is criminal, absolutely criminal. If the Brumbies gave up 16 A-zone entries against the Chiefs or Crusaders or Hurricanes they’re not winning 30-3, I guarantee you.

“You’d be wanting nine or 10 A zone entries from the opposition as a maximum so they’ve got to tighten up. But I just didn’t see enough discipline or cohesion in the Rebels’ game to say it was any better or different to 2023 or before.”

Meanwhile, ACT Brumbies hooker Lachie Lonergan believes his team can make an early Super Rugby Pacific statement by rolling the powerhouse Chiefs this weekend.

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Against the side that ended their 2023 campaign in the semi-finals, the Brumbies are out to continue their rampaging start to the year after belting Melbourne 30-3 first-up.

But the Chiefs, who ended last season as runners-up, are an entirely different proposition.

They avenged their final defeat with a 33-29 win against the Crusaders in a scintillating encounter in Waikato, Lonergan acknowledging a victory in the Super Round clash would be a genuine scalp.

“They’re a good defensive side and they’ve obviously got good players like D-Mac (halfback Damian McKenzie), their No.9 and No.10 combination steers the ship well … they’ve got exciting players so we have to defend well and look after their threats,” he said.

“We haven’t talked about (the semi-final loss) too much, but it’s always playing on everyone’s minds.

“We’re keen to (play) them, they’re a good team to (play), so everyone’s pretty excited.

“Losing to them in the semi-finals, it would be good to get one up on them early on in the season.”

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While their 27-point win against the Rebels reads well on the surface, the Brumbies have plenty to fix from their first competitive hit-out of the campaign.

They gave away a whopping 20 penalties, allowing Melbourne to comfortably win the territory battle despite only finding three points.

A similar performance discipline-wise would end in defeat against the Chiefs, Lonergan said.

“It was annoying on the weekend, but I think they’re easy fixes,” he said.

“We’ve obviously looked at them, there’s just stupid stuff around the ruck so we’ve got to be a lot better there.

“We didn’t get pinged on the weekend for it, but the Chiefs would take every opportunity they can.

“It’s gonna be a physical battle … good breakdown, good set-piece will go a long way to winning. They’re obviously a quality side but I think we’ll be up for it.”

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(With AAP)

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