Super Rugby AU: Can the Rebels combat coronavirus curveballs?

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Super Rugby AU is kicking off this weekend, opening with a blockbuster Reds-Waratahs showdown at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

It's been more than three months since the last professional Aussie game was played and is here to refresh your memories.

Today, let's look at the Rebels.

Waratahs preview here.

Reds preview here.

Where were we...?

Season snapshot

A shock loss to the Sunwolves in Tokyo was an ominous start for the Rebels but they rebounded from that and began to string together some momentum as the Super Rugby season went on.

Went close to beating the Brumbies in week two but a slow start ultimately cost them that chance before a solid win over the Waratahs in week three.

A victory over the Highlanders in Dunedin was the highlight of their Super Rugby stint and a win over the Lions a week later saw them begin to string some good performances together.

Last outing

A 37 -17 win over the Lions in Melbourne.

What's changed?

Squad changes

Wallabies forward Luke Jones won't be part of their Super Rugby AU campaign, released early to take up a deal with Top 14 side Racing 92.

Fringe back Harry Potter has signed with English club Leicester while prop Fereti Sa'aga announced his retirement during the shutdown.

With the Sevens World Series still on pause and the Olympics pushed back until 2021, the Rebels have picked up duo Lewis Holland and Lachie Anderson for the competition.

Their Aussie Sevens teammate Jeral Skelton had already joined the club, earlier than expected after the Olympic postponement.

Staff changes

The Rebels core coaching staff remains intact, with Dave Wessels, Geoff Parling and Shaun Berne continuing on into Super Rugby AU.

Where to from here?

The key to success

Resilience will be pivotal for a Rebels side that has already had some coronavirus detours thrown their way.

Facing an indefinite time away from their home base, the challenge for many players will be managing that element from here.

Consistency is the other major area they need to improve on. With a star-studded backline, especially, they need to ensure their paper credentials transfer onto the field.

Most important player

Marika Koroibete is the 2019 John Eales Medallist. Photo: Getty ImagesMarika Koroibete is the 2019 John Eales Medallist and the Rebels look so much more dangerous when he is at the top of his game.

With the new kicking rules being introduced into Super Rugby AU, expect Reece Hodge to have a significant role to play as well.

Keep an eye on...

Jeral Skelton. The former Aussie Sevens player showed some exciting signs in his time on the World Series and could really make an impact on the Super Rugby AU competition.

Likely to feature as a flanker, Skelton has more size than some of his national teammates and that coupled with his athleticism could make him a major threat.

Time to step up...

Set piece specialists. While the Rebels' superstar backs have their own work to do, their pack will need to set the tone. They looked wobbly in their lineouts in their last outing against the Lions and will be immediately tested there by the Brumbies on Saturday night. 

Prediction: 2nd

If they can push out the external distractions, this Rebels side is a genuine contender for the Super Rugby AU title.

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