Rebels just as passionate as Force: McGahan

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips and Beth Newman

The Rebels have let the Force do much of the talking as the Super Rugby axe hovers over Australia’s expansion clubs, but coach Tony McGahan says they have just as much passion as anyone.

The Force’s players, administration and fans have been vocal about the injustice potentially axing the Force would be for Western Australia rugby, and their ‘Own the Force’ campaign has urged the public to put their money where their mouth is.

When the Brumbies were also under the microscope, the Canberra club and coach Stephen Larkham were also quick to protest any discussion they would be in the firing line.

Melbourne, on the other hand, has been relatively reserved throughout the process, potentially because they were reportedly assured of their long-term security, but McGahan said that meant little.

“We possibly haven't been on the front foot like the Force and the Brumbies with their local media etc, but we've got as much passion as anyone to be staying in this competition and continue to contribute to Australian rugby,” he said.

“I don't know what to expect (with the decision).

“We've been given some great confidence with regard to our ownership with Andrew Cox, we've got great facilities, we've got a great network of players coming through.

“We've got a committed group that's showed great improvement over the last couple of years.

"We've got a strong list, we've got a lot of great things here.”

Reece Hodge and the Rebels are still searching for their first win of 2017. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyMcGahan discussed the saga with his players on Tuesday, for the first and last time, and was adamant it would be no distraction for the team as they face the Brumbies on Saturday.

“We've addressed it once and that'll be the end of it,” he said.

“It won't be an excuse for us, we need to look after our on-field performances and we really need to get out this weekend and show some passion and show some fight.

“We've been lacking that so far this year, through a few areas in our control and out of but more than ever we need to make sure we do our talking on the field.”

Star centre Reece Hodge is certainly not losing sleep over the decision,  saying he has not even entertained the thought the Rebels might not be around in 2018.

Hodge told media today he typically pays little attention to outside noise and that nothing had changed this week.

"In general I try to stay away from too much media, to be honest," he said.

"You can't really read too much into that sort of stuff.

"I don't think it's beneficial for anyone to read too much into the media stuff this week." - Reece Hodge

Instead of nervously awaiting the ARU decision, Hodge said the Rebels needed to lock in on a Brumbies team fresh off a rousing performance against the Reds.

"Our footy is the only thing that can do the talking at this stage," he said.

"Whether we take notice of anything like this or not, if we get our first win and build on that with a good South African tour, our season will be back on track.

"They (the Brumbies) have set the benchmark in the Australian Conference this season."In their execution at set piece and obviously last week they showed last week against the Reds that they have some exciting backs to play off the back of that as well."

The Rebels capitulated late against the Tahs in round five. Photo: Getty ImagesHodge said the team must find 80 minutes as good as their opening half against the Waratahs a fortnight ago.

"We played great for the first half but then we stopped playing," he said.

"If we play for 80 minutes like we did in that first half, we'll be in great shape to kick our season off with a win.

"That's what we are striving for here and that's why we've worked so hard this week."

The Rebels host the Brumbies on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.

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