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Team Preview: The Rebels

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allblacks.com     11 Feb 2018     Getty Images


Home:
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Last Season: 13th

Squad:
Adam Coleman, Alex Toolis, Amanaki Mafi, Anaru Rangi, Ben Daley, Bill Meakes, Colby Fainga'a, Dane Haylett-Petty, David Horwitz, Dominic Shipperley, Esei Ha'angana, Fereti Sa'aga, Geoff Parling, Harrison Goddard, Henry Hutchison, Hunter Paisami, Jack Maddocks, Jack McGregor, Jermaine Ainsley, Jono Lance, Jordan Uelese, Jordy Reid, Laurie Weeks, Lopeti Timani, Marika Koroibete, Matt Philip, Michael Ruru, Nic Stirzaker, Pama Fou, Reece Hodge, Richard Hardwick, Robert Leota, Ross Haylett-Petty, Sam Jeffries, Sam Talakai, Sefanaia Naivalu, Semise Tupou, Sione Tuipulotu, Tayler Adams, Tetera Faulkner, Tom English, Tom Moloney, Trevor Hosea, Will Genia.

QUICK TAP: BRUMBIES 2018 TEAM PREVIEW

Game breaker:
Utility back Reece Hodge will ensure the Rebels keep all opponents honest in 2018. Apart from the attacking skills which have seen him appear in 24 Tests, he has a prodigious goal-kicking boot which is capable of punishing sides from around 55m out from the posts. The emphasis in Super Rugby may be on scoring tries, but consistency from goal-kicking opportunities is also an important way of imposing pressure. Now in his third season with the side he has scored 181 points in his 27 appearances.

Key signing: 
Will Genia may have wanted to end his rugby playing days with the Reds after two years in France with Stade Francais but circumstances resulted in him having to sign a two-year deal with the Rebels. That is good news for the Victorian side who, while they have a game competitor in Nic Starzaker, will benefit from the experience Genia will offer. There were times during the 2017 international season when he showed some of the skills on the break that proved so hard to contain at his peak and if he is able to get the room, and time, to unleash the best aspects of his game, there will be some spark to the Rebels attack this year.

Returning veteran:
While hardly in the veteran category in terms of rugby experience Rebels wing Marika Koroibete has plenty of hard exposure to the oval ball codes having played league for Wests Tigers and Melbourne Storm between 2012-16. When switching to rugby he was almost immediately named in the Wallabies team to tour the northern hemisphere in 2016 and he built on that to play in eight Tests during 2017, scoring four tries in the process. Given quality ball by a sharp-looking back unit he could prove a dangerous handful on attack in 2018.

The Scoop:
The Rebels stand to benefit from the reduction to four teams in the Australian game. They have secured coach David Wessels from the Western Force as head coach while former Randwick director of rugby Nick Ryan has joined as general manager. More Force experience is provided by Joe Barakat as forwards coach while former Al Blacks manager Tony Thorpe will serve as team director. Added to the supplementation of the playing resources, there should be associated benefits for the Rebels as they continue to grow the game in Melbourne. Having players with the international experience of 88-Test veteran Will Genia, whose 114 Super Rugby appearances were all for the Reds, and 18-Test three-quarter Dane Haylett-Petty and the former England lock Geoff Parling is a great starting point for the new-look side.