Rebels braced for new Force

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rebels fullback Mike Harris says his side are wary of the expanded threat of the Force.

While the Rebels are well aware of the threat the Force’s forwards pose but Harris said the addition of some experienced backs would make them a more threatening prospect.

“That’s probably one of their strengths in the past but they’ve recruited pretty well over the offseason and got a few more dangerous backs floating around here as well,” he said.

“The back row competition we’ve got we think we can put a pretty good competitive side against them.

The Rebels have two big road trips to kick off the season before returning to Melbourne to host the Reds at AAMI Park.

Harris said the heavy kilometre haul early in the season would not affect their desire to start as well as possible.

“You've got to get off to a flying start,” he said.

“You can get caught looking too far down the track  but we know we want to start well, start fast and you set yourselves up for the rest of the season that way.”

The trip means that captain Nic Stirzaker could miss two matches with a shoulder injury sustained in the latter part of preseason.

Rebels coach Tony McGahan said a call would be made on Stirzaker either Sunday or Monday, ahead of Melbourne’s departure for South Africa.

“You’d always want your captain to be starting round one but unfortunately Nic’s not available,” he said.

“Ben Meehan's done a terrific job, he’s been here for the last 2 years, he’s gathered game time at Super Rugby and NRC.”

McGahan said the extended travel meant they would take a more cautious approach with Stirzaker.

“We’ve got a big stretch of six games front for us so it probably allows us to be a bit cautious with that. We’ve still got Mick Snowden on the bench as well.

“We’re well covered and probably don't need to do anything this silly at this stage of the season.”