Turinui backs talent pool as injury list grows

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Rebels are cautious of "not going to the well too many times" in continuously playing young guns that have been forced to step up during Melbourne's injury plagued season.

The likes of Tyrell Lomax, Fereti Sa'aga and Will Miller have filled holes for the Rebels this season and while they've been in good form, assistant coach Morgan Turinui said the brains trust were wary of potential burnout on players who aren't used to the rigours of a Super Rugby season.

"With a guy like Lomax, you have to be very careful," Turinui said.

"They'll play one or two games really well but if you try and get them to play six weeks in a row, week in and week out, their bodies start to struggle.Tyrell Lomax trucks it up for the Rebels. Photo: Getty Images"So we have a bit of a balancing act there in our front row at the moment."

Halfback is the most precarious position of all for the Rebels.

They were forced to play without one for 55 minutes against the Kings and in truth, it completely killed their chances of winning that match.

As good as Colby Fainga'a and Ben Volavola are in their respective positions, neither are qualified halfbacks and Melbourne could not sustain any attacking momentum on Sunday morning.

They will get Ben Meehan and Melbourne U20s halfback Harrison Goddard into the match day 23 come Saturday's clash with the Lions but there is only bad news on the injury front for Nic Stirzaker and Mick Snowden.

Stirzaker's high ankle sprain will keep him out for two to six weeks, while Snowden has had his season ended having injured the Lisfranc bone in his foot.

"Mick's probably the most popular player in the squad, one of the hardest working guys, even though he is outside the 23," Turinui said.

"So it was one of those ones where the whole squad just felt terrible."

The halfbacks are just two of the 15 players currently unavailable through injuries in Melbourne.

The list is long and features prominent names such as Sean McMahon, Dom Shipperley, Jack Debreczeni, Jordy Reid and Sam Jeffries.

Despite that, the Lions present a chance for four points for the Rebels, given their sluggish win over the Force.

They are the best team in South Africa and play an unusually exciting brand of rugby for a South African Super Rugby team but they weren't flash last Saturday.

Turinui's team is a different side at AAMI Park and they are every chance of springing a surprise result come Saturday afternoon.

"The Lions aren't your typical South African side," he said.

"They have a hybrid New Zealand game.

"What you will get this weekend is a high octane, high intensity game of rugby.

"We've just got to play rugby, back ourselves and see what happens."

The Rebels host the Lions on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3pm, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and on radio at RUGBY.com.au.