Stirzaker injury compounds Rebels' halfback hell

Super Rugby
AAP
by AAP

Melbourne Rebels' Super Rugby season from hell has continued with skipper Nic Stirzaker sidelined for three weeks due to an ankle injury.

Halfback Stirzaker withdrew on the eve of their brutal loss to the Kings in South Africa last round while his back-up Mick Snowden is also expected to be out for up to six weeks after suffering a suspected syndesmosis injury during the match.

"It's some sort of bone fragment in Nic's ankle that flared up so I think he's going to be out for three weeks," Rebels' general manager of football operations Baden Stephenson told AAP on Tuesday.

Ben Meehan will start on the bench tomorrow night. Photo: rugby.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyMelbourne host the top-ranked South African side the Lions on Saturday afternoon with Ben Meehan likely to wear the No.9 jersey. For support, they have recalled halfback Harrison Goddard from the Australian under-20 team.

"Harrison played particularly well for our under-20s team and did the whole pre-season with us so we've called him back," Stephenson said.

"It will probably be his chance to make a debut on Saturday."

Wallabies flanker Sean McMahon, who hurt his knee just prior to his return from ankle surgery, is unlikely to play against the Lions but the Rebels are counting on him making a comeback the following week in round 12 against the Reds.

Such has been Melbourne's run of injuries they had six players in their squad for South Africa who weren't on contract, and they only met two, including Sydney flanker Will Miller, the week before they left.

Sean McMahon looms as Pocock's replacement. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley"It has been relentless and we've had so many different types of injuries," Stephenson said.

"We thought by mid-season we should be getting a fair few back but unfortunately as they come back we continue to lose more."

Stephenson said the club wasn't looking to make excuses for only cracking one win so far this season. Even in their debut season in 2011, which was their leanest, they managed three.

But he said the injuries as well as the ongoing distraction about whether the Rebels or Force would be cut from the competition was taking a toll.

"I think this year it just seems week after week there's been major distractions and issues and challenges and we've tried to just focus on football, but I think the uncertainty has been a bit of a distraction," Stephenson said.

"We haven't played our best football and we certainly haven't put our best team on the park.

"Ultimately the accountability is with the team but there's been a lot of peripheral noise and distractions."

The Rebels take on the Sharks on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:05pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.

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