A new era of Australian rugby was officially launched today with all five Super Rugby club coaches and captains sharing the spotlight at today’s Vodafone Super Rugby AU media launch.
Speaking on behalf of the Melbourne Rebels, Head Coach David Wessels and Captain Dane Haylett-Petty shared their excitement for the new domestic competition which kicks off this weekend when the Rebels face the Brumbies at GIO Stadium in Canberra.
Coming up against one of Australia’s strongest performing Super Rugby sides in 2020, Wessels says his players have embraced their underdog status but remained optimistic on their chances heading into Saturday’s opening round clash.
“It’s funny but I think rightly so with people saying the Brumbies are potentially the favourites,” said Wessels, following the Canberra based team’s blistering start to the now abandoned Super Rugby competition.
“But of course, a year ago at the same point in the competition, we were in that same boat you know.
“We had a great start, but Super Rugby is a long season and a lot can change and the margins are fine too, so just a little bit of momentum here and there can really change the outcome.
“We’re excited to start again and I think the group’s in a really great space – we had sixteen guys come back and run personal bests in testing after isolation, which I think show’s a real motivation in the group to do things away from coaches and the pressures of the S&C (Strength and Conditioning) staff and just to do the work for yourself – which show’s that you really care.
“Hopefully that’s reflected in our performances.” After being forced to relocate interstate amid a surge in Victoria’s Covid-19 cases with no return date yet confirmed, Captain Dane Haylett-Petty says his players attention never wavered and everyone remained focus on the job at hand – a Round 1 win over the Brumbies.
“It actually hasn’t been too hard,” said Haylett-Petty.
“Obviously, this isolation and break we’ve had off, well sometimes it takes something being taken away for you to realise how much you miss doing what we do, and I think the boys are just really excited about playing rugby again.
“Everyone came back in amazing shape, so we ripped in for this second pre -season now and I feel the intensity has gone up again this week with game week.
“Everyone is just looking forward to playing some rugby again.”
It’s been almost four months since Melbourne supporters last had the opportunity to cheer on their side – a bonus point 37-17 victory over the Lions at AAMI Park in March.
Despite the break between action, community support for the Melbourne Rebels continues to grow.
When pressed on what Rebels fan can expect come Saturday, Haylett-Petty says players were set on delivering eighty-minutes’ worth of passionate, attacking rugby.
“I think us just showing just how much the fans mean to us and just how much we love playing footy.
“I think with this first round and the great rivalry with the Brumbies, you’re going to see a lot of intensity and a whole lot of feeling in it.
“We’re happy to play some really attacking rugby and something that the fans can enjoy.”
Saturday’s Super Rugby AU clash between the Rebels and the Brumbies will be broadcasted exclusively live and ad-free during play on Fox Sports on Foxtel and streamed on Kayo from 7:00 pm AEST.