Rebels need numbers for final games

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

There won’t be any commitment to blooding youth this weekend for the Melbourne Rebels, rather coach Tony McGahan says it’s simply a matter of getting anyone who’s fit enough out on the park.

The Rebels could have as many as 14 players unavailable for their match against the Crusaders, though it’s not an unfamiliar situation for the Melbourne side that has had forced changes nearly every week this season.

Fullback Mike Harris was the latest last-minute withdrawal, pulling out against the Stormers, before the side lost locks Lopeti Timani and Luke Jones early in the match to concussions.

“Injuries have been a constant for us all season but about six guys unavailable for the season that have been on a long injury list or long term and another eight guys in doubt (for this weekend),” McGahan said.

“We've been dealing with this since round one really where we've had a limited supply of numbers with no academy down here so we just need to manage it the best we can and we'll get enough work done.

The Rebels set piece was under pressure after injuries. Photo: Getty Images“I think we're probably just looking at who we can get on the pitch so whether they're young, old, we're not really concerned.”

The greatest area of concern for McGahan is in the set piece, which was dominated by the Stormers after Timani and Jones were injured, though McGahan said those losses weren’t the unravelling of the team.

“The two locks going out certainly played its part in the set piece but we know that early on with the two locks there that we didn't perform as well as we could have either,” he said.

“That really set a platform and a confidence and a mental shift a) for the opposition and b) for us and really was compounded by the loss of two locks.”

The Rebels take on the Crusaders on Saturday at 5:35pm AEST, LIVE on FOXSPORTS.