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Super Rugby Profile: Melbourne Rebels

Off-field issues continue to swirl around the Melbourne Rebels, but head coach Kevin Foote will be eager to focus on his players and try to engineer an upturn in fortunes for the franchise.

Success has been hard to come by for the Rebels and they have missed out on finals altogether in the last two fully completed seasons of Super Rugby.

A total of eight wins from the 28 games played across those last two campaigns shows just how much the Rebels need to improve if they are to become a force in Super Rugby, leaving Foote will a big task on his hands.

His side are out at 34.00 to win the Grand Final this season,

Lowly finish not as bad as it looks

Last season the Rebels finished down in 11th place in the standings, with only Moana Pasifika below them, however, they were more competitive that that situation might suggest.

An overall points differential of -78 was better than five other teams, while a tally of 57 tries scored was a higher total than every other team up to an including the sixth-placed Waratahs.

Five of their ten defeats came by a margin of seven points or less, so there is reason to think that an improvement in performance could bring about substantially better results.

Three of their four wins came on home soil, against Western Force, the Reds and the Waratahs, while their lone success on the road came against Moana Pasifika in Auckland.

Key players

Fly-half Carter Gordon is without doubt the man the Rebels will be looking to try to and inspire an upturn in results, with the talented 22-year-old having scored seven tries in 13 games last season to catapult himself into the Australian squad for the World Cup.

He, along with most of his Wallabies colleagues, failed to fire as Australia were knocked out in the group stage and the Rebels will be eager to rebuild their starlet’s bruised confidence.

Skipper and back-row star Rob Leota may feel like something of a new signing, having been forced to miss the whole of last season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon sustained while playing for the Wallabies.

Should he return fully fit and firing, the 26-year-old is sure to offer both a big physical presence as well as leadership qualities from the base of the scrum.

New signings

The major new arrival for the Rebels this season is certainly one who cannot be missed, Australia tight-head prop Taniela Tupou.

The 27-year-old has more than 50 international caps to his name and joins the Rebels after spending the last decade with Queensland Reds.

Tupou made his international debut back in November 2017 and remains one of the best props in Super Rugby - he is certainly a player who could make a big difference. 

Another Wallaby, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, returns to Super Rugby after a single season with Northampton Saints in England, while back-up scrum-half Jack Maunder has joined from Exeter Chiefs.

Another interesting addition is Australian Sevens international winger Darby Lancaster, who could prove to be an inspirational signing if he is able to adjust to the rigours of the 15-man game.

Opening fixtures

The Rebels begin their campaign with a home game against the Brumbies on Saturday 23rd February, with the visitors having reached the semi-finals last season before losing out 19-6 to the Chiefs.

That clash is followed by another home match, this time against Western Force, before the first road trip for the Rebels sees them visit Moana Pasifika.

That is a comparatively easy start to the new campaign and the Rebels have the opportunity to build some early momentum to allow them to enjoy a better season.

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