Debreczeni on collision course with world's best

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rebels flyhalf Jack Debreczeni will come into this weekend’s clash with the Hurricanes in arguably career-best form, just in time to meet All Blacks’ 10 Beauden Barrett.

Debreczeni’s return to Super Rugby has been one of the surprising stories of the 2018 season, and his is a journey that has pleased coach Dave Wessels as much as anything else in a 4-1 start to the year.

“I'm just very pleased with the way Jack's playing. Probably the most pleasing thing on Friday night was Jack's performance,” Wessels said on Tuesday.

“That's certainly the best I've seen him play. I feel like every week he's getting better and better - the more he plays with (halfback) Will (Genia), the better he gets.”

Jack Debreczeni has been back in form. Photo: Getty ImagesAnd though Debreczeni can cut a fairly laconic character on the field, Wessels says the playmaker takes his rugby very seriously.

“He can give you the shits at different times because he looks so bloody casual and you want to give him a smack and tell him to spice up a bit but it's just his way,” Wessels said.

“Before the game, he's sitting in the change room reading a book, which is a bit different but when it comes game time, he brings it.

“What he is, he's a real student of the game. He spends hours and hours and hours watching the footage and picking opportunities against an opposition.

“It doesn't happen by accident for Jack.”

Debreczeni will have plenty to study ahead of his match-up with Barrett but Wessels said they had a plan for the world-beating flyhalf.

"He's the best player in the world, probably, Beauden Barrett and in a very critical position,” he said.

“He links the inside and outside of their attack together pretty well.

“There's parts of the game that he doesn't enjoy doing so much then that's the stuff if we want to contain him in defence, we've got to make him do some things he doesn't necessarily want to do.

“That's probably around the stuff we can do with ball in hand.

“That's the way we're approaching the game, whether it's wrong or right, we'll see on Friday night.”

Jack Debreczeni is set to face Beauden Barrett on Friday night. Photo: Getty ImagesBeing able to pick from a fully fit roster is a strong starting point for the Rebels when they take on the Hurricanes and that’s the position in which Rebels coach Dave Wessels finds himself this week.

Wessels is in the enviable position of having a clean bill of health in his star-studded roster, with Wallabies Dane Haylett-Petty (concussion) and Jordan Uelese (hamstring) cleared to play.

“I can honestly say this week has been the toughest selection I've ever had to make,” he said.

“We're very fortunate that everyone's fit, I've never been in a team where everybody's fit, touch wood.

“It's been incredibly hard, I've had a few sleepless nights and certainly in our coaches' discussion, I've never had less of a consensus than I've had this week.

“What has been so rewarding is to see the reaction of the guys who have missed out, and the way they've taken to training.

“It just shows the team spirit of the group.”

One of the surprise calls may just be in the hooker spot, with Anaru Rangi set to beat out Uelese for a start against the Hurricanes.

Rangi was influential for the Rebels against the Sharks, with Uelese missing through injury and Wessels plans to reward his incumbent no. 2.

“I think Anaru's played well enough to warrant retaining his spot,” he said.

The Rebels take on the Hurricanes on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT. Buy tickets here.