Rebels ready for the unknown

Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

History will be made on Saturday afternoon when the Rebels become the first Australian team to take on Super Rugby's new Japanese side, the Sunwolves.

The Rebels arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday night and Rebels prop Laurie Weeks said his team was looking forward to the challenge.

“Everyone’s really excited,” he said.

“Speaking to most of the guys it’s everyone’s first time here.

"It's very exciting and (it'll be) very interesting to see what we encounter.”

The Sunwolves are yet to record a win in Super Rugby but have shown potential in their opening two matches, going down 32-31 in heartbreaking fashion to the Cheetahs after holding a 15-point lead at halftime.

With the Japanese team back on their home turf, the Rebels will be wary of the threat the fledgling side poses, as they also tread new ground in an unfamiliar environment.

While the Rebels will be facing some new faces, Weeks has pinpointed some more familiar foes he’ll be watching carefully on Saturday.

“I know personally up front I’ve got to battle with two very good international front rowers in Shota (Horie) and Gaki (Keita Inagaki), " he said.

“They’re good friends of our, so it’ll be interesting."

Both Horie and Inagaki have enjoyed stints with the Rebels in the past but have returned home to play for the Sunwolves.

Hooker Horie, the first Japanese player to feature in an Australian Super Rugby side, made the biggest impact on Weeks, on the way to 18 appearances over a 2013-14 stint in Melbourne.

 “Shota’s a superstar, he’s an excellent player. If you watch any of his games he’s one of the best players on the field," Weeks said.

“He’s a very dynamic player. He’s a strong leader. I think he’s one of those hookers you’ll see who’s very comfortable in the backline.”

"He had the silkiest hands in our team when he was here and he doesn’t mind putting in a little kick, so he’s a very dangerous player."

The Rebels are in Tokyo as they prepare for the match against the Sunwolves, kicking off on Saturday at 3:15pm AEDT.