The Melbourne Rebels are the new kids on the block in this new extended version of Super Rugby. The fifth franchise to come from Australia, who only recently had their fourth team come good. Can a fifth team be supported from the island?
They made sure that they have their ducks in a row, that’s for sure. First up is legendary coach Rod Macqueen, who has had his fair share of rugby coaching. Then they have scouted and recruited a good few players ranging all over the globe. To give you an idea, they have 9 players from Europe, 13 from Australia Union, of which 5 are from the Brumbies alone. They even have a player that played in Japan, alongside Peter Grant.
You may think that the other franchises would only let slip their backup or reserve players, but you are wrong. Think of any Australian dream backline, and you would have a Stirling Mortlock in there. And he is going to be a significant player in this squad.
But with the amount of coverage another backline player is getting, one would think he can run through walls! Danny Cipriani, an English flyhalf living in the shadow of Johnny Wilkinson has moved to Melbourne in an attempt to revive his international career. The much vaunted flyhalf has already been told to lose the playboy image.
Other players of note, both former Brumbies players include Mark Gerard and Julian Huxley, as well as South African JP du Plessis, who was in his schoolboy days earmarked as a future international.
My prediction for the Rebels is that they will battle to find their feet in this competition, much the same as the Force team did a few years back.
Fantasy League players of note: Mortlock is always a borderline cal, as he gets himself injured waking up in the morning. Laurie Weeks is a prop worth mentioning who scored a few tries in the teams’ warm up games so far.
Melbourne Rebels 2011 squad:
Peter Betham (Brumbies)
Luke Jones (Western Force)
Adam Byrnes (Queensland Reds)
Richard Kingi (Queensland Reds)
Alistair Campbell (Montpellier)
Michael Lipman (Bath)
Danny Cipriani (London Wasps)
Hoani Macdonald (Newport Gwent Dragons)
Sam Cordingley (Grenoble)
Lachlan Mitchell (London Wasps)
Tim Davidson (NSW Waratahs)
Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies)
Gareth Delve (Gloucester)
Kevin O’Neill (Chiefs)
Adam Freier (NSW Waratahs)
Jarrod Saffy (rugby league – St George Illawarra)
Mark Gerrard (NTT Communications)
Greg Somerville (Gloucester)
Nic Henderson (Western Force)
Heath Tessman (NSW Waratahs)
James Hilgendorf (Kobe Steel)
Cooper Vuna (rugby league – Newcastle Knights)
Julian Huxley (Brumbies)
Laurie Weeks (Queensland Reds)
Luke Rooney (Toulon)
Rodney Blake (Bayonne)
Tom Chamberlain (Blues)
JP Du Plessis (rugby league – Sydney Roosters)
Nicholas Phipps (Australia sevens)
Hugh Pyle (Brumbies)
Ged Robinson (Wellington Lions)
Afusipa Taumoepeau (Brumbies)
Super 15 Melbourne Rebels Coaching Team:
General Manager – Danny Corcoran
Head Coach – Rod Macqueen
Assistant Coach – Damian Hill
Forwards Coach – Mark Bakewell