Hosea to help Rebels get off to fast Super Rugby start

Wed, Feb 8, 2023, 12:05 AM
Melissa Woods - AAP
by Melissa Woods - AAP
New Rebel, Alex Mafi, reflects on his first pre-season camp at the Rebels and what it meant to have Melbourne Rebels Board Member Gary Gray speak on the pride of representing Victorian Rugby.

Melbourne will look to a trimmed-down Trevor Hosea to have a bigger presence as the Rebels try to get their Super Rugby Pacific season off to a flying start.

Opening 2022 with five losses, the Rebels were left chasing the pack last year and now coach Kevin Foote is determined they hit the ground running in their round-one clash with the Western Force in Perth on February 25.

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They take on the Brumbies this Saturday night in Wagga Wagga in their final trial.

"Last year we didn't start well and by the back end we were finding some momentum and I want to learn from that and start well this year," Foote told AAP.

"We've still got a few injuries but we know we're prepared."

With Wallabies lock Matt Philip sidelined after a serious knee injury last October, Hosea is set for more game time.

Still only 23, the Melbourne-born second-rower has long been tipped for stardom and was included in the Wallabies squad in 2020.

But a foot injury stalled his progress and he missed last year's entire 2022 Super season.

Foote believes Hosea has the size and talent to make it on the world stage, likening him to Springboks powerhouse Eben Etzebeth, says he has big expectations this year.

"I haven't seen a physical lock like him, like Eben Etzebeth - one of those tall guys who are really well defined," Foote told AAP.

"He's lighter now than he was, so he's about 119-120 kilograms so he's fitter, and he's much more comfortable now calling the line-out.

"With Matt (Philip) being out I've got a big expectation of Trev, but he's ready for that as he's grown and matured a lot so he will have a big part to play in our pack."

As well as Philip, the Rebels are missing Wallabies flanker Rob Leota, who ruptured his Achilles in September while on Test duty and also key back Andrew Kellaway, who required surgery on a foot fracture.

Kellaway has started to run, with the Rebels hopeful he will be back playing before his round-six target.

They have recruited Italy winger Monty Ioane, young Kiwi flanker Vaiolini Ekuasi and English lock Tim Cardall.

Ex-Red Alex Mafi has also signed while hooker Anaru Rangi has returned along with prop Sam Talakai and halfback Ryan Louwrens.

The Rebels were kept scoreless in their opening trial against Fijian Drua last month but Foote wasn't alarmed by the scoreline.

"We decided to leave a lot of our senior guys at home as we have a lot of travel coming up and thought it was a good opportunity for our young guys in pretty harsh conditions," Foote said.

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