A win over the Jaguares this weekend will be vital for the Rebels’ finals hopes, forwards coach Joe Barakat says.
After hosting the Jaguares on Saturday afternoon, the Rebels travel to South Africa to take on the Bulls and Stormers, before a clash with the red-hot Crusaders when they arrive home.
It’s a span that could make or break their season, with the chance for the Rebels to truly prove their Super Rugby credentials, leading the Australian conference by just one point after a bye.
Melbourne will be well aware of the risks the Jaguares present, having lost to the South Americans in the corresponding fixture last year.
That Rebels team was far from the side that sits fifth in the competition so far this season, but Barakat admitted they couldn’t underestimate the Jaguares.
“The win this weekend is quite crucial to us,” he said.
“It does begin to separate teams who are going to finish at the top of this competition and teams who may not do so well.
“So, we actually feel that this game is relatively crucial for us.
“The way we play is crucial for us and we feel that if we play how we want to play the result will look after itself.”
The Rebels have been guilty of fading away in some matches this year, letting both the Waratahs and Hurricanes pile on the second-half points in their clashes.
Barakat said that patchiness could be solved with a bit of faith in their strategies.
“The Hurricanes game, the first 35 minutes was probably some of the best football we've played and we came into this game feeling pretty good about ourselves,” he said.
“I suppose what comes out of that game is whatever the plan is you take into a game, you've got to stick to that plan for the duration of the game.
“We truly believe that our plan works and the type of football we want to play works.
“So, it's important not just to play 35 minutes of that football, play for as long as we can and obviously 60-65 minutes wins you that game of football.”
The Rebels were embracing their grassroots on Monday, the club’s community day, with players donning their Melbourne club jerseys at training and mixing with club representatives.
The Rebels take on the Jaguares on Saturday afternoon at AAMI Park, kicking off at 3:15pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.