Rebels have a point to prove without Genia

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

A win without Will Genia would be a handy confidence boost for the Melbourne Rebels’ morale, as they embark on their South Africa tour.

The absence of Genia will be one of the greatest tests of the tour, with the scrumhalf the rudder of the side for much of this season.

 Genia’s influence showed most acutely in the Rebels’ unravelling  against the Jaguares last weekend, when the halfback came off with a hamstring injury.

 The 30-year-old will be back in Australia as Melbourne go for an historic win in South Africa, a country where they have never tasted victory, but Rebels back Reece Hodge said he was confident they could standup without him.

Michael Ruru is likely to start for the Rebels. Photo: Getty ImagesMichael Ruru will be at the head of the queue to start in Genia’s absence, with Junior Wallabies nine Harrison Goddard the next choice.

 Though Hodge said the side had complete faith in Genia’s understudies, success without the Wallabies half would be a valuable confidence booster.

 “I think it’s important for the confidence of not only the rest of the team but also MIkey and Harrison,” he said.

"They’re more than up to the challenge.

"They’re both leaders in their own right as halfback you’ve got to be demanding of the teammates around you and you’ve got to be a leader on the field.\

 “We’ve have full confidence that both of them can do that and it’s up to us to put the structures around them so they can excel on the field.”

The Bulls are coming off a big win over the Sharks, piling on 40 points in that match, with fullback Warrick Gelant the star in that match.

“He’s obviously an exciting player - we played them a couple of years ago and he was very dangerous then as well,” he said.

 “He probably hasn’t really been seen much over the past couple of years, but he’s a very dangerous player and he’s certainly  going to provide a threat for us, along with (Jesse) Kriel at outside centre and they’ve got some very exciting wingers as well, so we know we’re going to have our hands full but.

“In saying that, we’ve got some pretty dangerous outside backs as well, going to be an exciting match-up.

Hodge will be returning to the Rebels side for the clash, after missing the loss to the Jaguares with a hamstring concern.

The Rebels take on the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, kicking off at 3:05pm local, 11:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.