Melbourne Rebels captain Nic Stirzaker is calling for his side to bounce back from a “disappointing” effort against the Hurricanes last Friday.
The Rebels have encountered an up-and-down season to date highlighted, with the biggest high coming in their first ever win at Allianz Stadium over the Waratahs.
The Melbourne side will host an in-form Cheetahs outfit, coming off a 92-17 victory over the Sunwolves last weekend.
“They’ll be brimming with confidence coming over to Australia after that victory back at home, so we’ll need to put a stop to that on Friday night.” Stirzaker said on the rugby.com.au podcast.
The Rebels captain is starting to settle in after a disrupted start to the season, in which he missed the opening rounds while recovering from shoulder surgery before an early head knock ended his match against the Waratahs.
“It was a bit of disruptive start (to the season), and then when you come back you always feel a little bit underdone with nine months out,” he said.
“It’s been good to get a bit more game time building up over the few weeks and feeling a lot more comfortable with a bit of time in the saddle.”
It won’t just be the match that everyone will be keeping a watchful eye on but also the turf at AAMI Park following heavy criticism of the surface, which was destroyed under scrums.
Stirzaker and his side would be far more concerned with clinching a win than the state of the surface on Friday night.
“It’s a bit of an issue for the stadium for sure but for us after last week it’s probably the least of our concerns, we have a few more pressing issues to sort out after being beat by 20 points,” he said.
“I hope the turf will hold up for the season because we love playing at AAMI, it’s a great stadium, it’s a really intimate crowd and they really get behind us.”
If the Rebels are to cause a stir on Friday, it may be without one of their stars.
Centre Tamati Ellison and his wife are expecting their fourth child any day now, but Stirzaker said it won’t affect Ellison’s preparation.
“He's on call with the phone but he told us he’s definitely going to play,” Stirzaker said.
“Tams is the ultimate professional, he’s a had a big influence on our club in the last few years he’s been here.
“He’s a really smart guy in the way he plays the game and he’s been one of our most consistent performers in the opening round. We’re rapt that’s he going to play.
“Maybe they can delay it till after kick off, that would be nice, “ he said.
The Melbourne Rebels play the Cheetahs at AAMI Park at 7:30pm AEST Friday, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.