UPDATE: Rebels prepared to stay on the road for the long haul

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Rebels are prepared to stay on the road as long as they are required if it means Super Rugby AU can continue uninterrupted.

Melbourne relocated to Canberra last week after a spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria and it is unclear when they will be able to return 

They are currently in the ACT for a fortnight at least, with their opening clash against the Brumbies on Saturday, and their round two match against the Reds is set to be played in NSW.

With the Queensland government requiring Queensland sporting teams to self-isolate for 14 days if they play against a Melbourne team or visit Melbourne for a game, it appears the Rebels will be on the road for some time.

The NRL's Storm, who relocated to the Sunshine Coast, have already signalled their resignation to being away from home for their entire season, which stretches well beyond the 12 weeks of Super Rugby AU.

Flyhalf Matt To'omua said the team understood the difficulties that competition organisers had and were prepared to be on tour for the long haul.

"We understand the complexity of the issue, it's a little bit ironic where in Melbourne we obviously have the worst cases but it's other border restrictions," he said.

"It is our part for the game, it is a time of doing things for the greater good and by no means do we feel like that's our job done."

To'omua acknowledged that the longer the time away from home dragged on, the more difficult it's been

"We still have our ambitions to win this tournament as everyone does so I'm not saying we won't face our challenges throughout it.

"Things like homesickness, the novelty all wearing off, the stresses at home.

"There's lots of job losses and all that kind of stuff and we all have to manage that.

"I'm confident we have the support network around our environment that we can but it's a lot easier said than done.

"I'm a bit sick of that word unprecedented but it is so we will have to learn as we go and just be open with each other.

"It's a little bit different than what we've faced in the past but I'm confident we've got the environment to help guys through that."

While the players are enjoying their time in Canberra generally, it hasn't all gone smoothly for the Rebels.

Back Reece Hodge's room was flooded earlier in the week after a pipe burst.

"We're not sure (how it happened), it was proper flooded though," he said.

"We had a few guys go and try to throw their laptops in the water and say they should get it back on insurance but it didn't work.

"I think it was in his bathroom somehow."

On the field, Melbourne will field four debutants in their side for Saturday's Brumbies matchup.

Wallabies no. 8 Isi Naisarani is out with a hamstring injury while hooker Anaru Rangi is missing the clash with a knee injury.

Lock Luke Jones has already departed the club after signing a deal with Racing 92 for next season and had been battling a back issue for much of the year.

Test hooker Jordan Uelese will step up to the starting spot in Rangi's absence while Naisarani's unavailability has forced a rejig in the loose forwards.

Matt Philip will team up with former Sunwolves lock Michael Stolberg in the second row while 21-year-old Josh Kemeny will make his debut at blindside flanker.

Workhorse Michael Wells will start at no. 8 for the Rebels and Richard Hardwick has been named at openside flanker.

While their pack is in some ways unfamiliar, their backline is predictably star-studded with four Wallabies dotted through the attack.

Reece Hodge returns from injury to play at outside centre, Matt To'omua will steer the attack at 10, Marika Koroibete will start on the wing and skipper Dane Haylett-Petty will be at fullback.

The Rebels face the Brumbies at GIO Stadium on Saturday July 4, kicking off at 7:15pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy a Kayo subscription here.

TEAM

Rebels to face the Brumbies

1. Matt Gibbon

2. Jordan Uelese

3. Pone Fa’amausili

4. Matt Philip

5. Michael Stolberg

6. Josh Kemeny

7. Richard Hardwick

8. Michael Wells (VC)

9. Ryan Louwrens

10. Matt To'omua (VC)

11. Marika Koroibete

12. Billy Meakes

13. Reece Hodge

14. Andrew Kellaway

15. Dane Haylett-Petty ©

Reserves

16. Efitusi Maafu

17. Cameron Orr

18. Jermaine Ainsley

19. Trevor Hosea

20. Esei Haangana

21. Rob Leota

22. Frank Lomani

23. Andrew Deegan