How did the Melbourne Rebels measure up in 2016?
12th overall (3rd Australian conference, 8th Australasian group) 7 wins, 8 losses, 3 bonus points, PD -121
What went right?
The Rebels continued to make progress in their sixth season of Super Rugby, knocking off milestones such as their first Allianz Stadium win and their first weeks spent on top of the Australian Super Rugby conference. Despite an injury-ravaged year, the Rebels managed to equal their franchise record of wins, with seven victories from 15 starts.
What went wrong?
Injuries plagued the Melbourne Rebels from the start of the season, with late withdrawals becoming the norm rather than a rarity in a spate of bad luck. The problem became such a concern that the club has ordered an independent review across their football program. The form of much-hyped halves pairing, Nic Stirzaker and Jack Debreczeni, also failed to hit the heights predicted ahead of the 2016 season.
Reece Hodge has been the biggest revelation at the Rebels this season, and potentially in the entire Australian Super Rugby conference. The 21-year-old has been thrown into all bar one position in the Rebels backline, including a Super Rugby debut where he want from the wing to fullback to flyhalf. His form impressed so much that he earned a Wallabies squad call up in the June Test window.
Who is going?
Utility back Mike Harris is off to Lyon, while foundation player Luke Jones has already left Australia to head to Bordeaux, leaving prop Laurie Weeks as the only foundation player left in Melbourne. Kiwi centre Tamati Ellison is also reportedly on the move, though his destination has not yet been confirmed.
Melbourne completed a massive coup poaching Melbourne Storm winger Marika Koroibete back to his junior code, along with Sevens star Pama Fou. At the other end of the scale, the Rebels have brought some rising stars south. Australian Schoolboys flyhalf Jack McGregor was the first domino to fall, with U20s fullback Jack Maddocks and prop Tyrel Lomax also making the switch from NSW and the ACT, respectively. They’ve moved to replace departing lock Jones with little-known second rower Alex Toolis, joining from Edinburgh.
Laurie Weeks. The prop’s banter is strong and he involves all of his teammates.