It’s been a massive opening week of Melbourne Rebels pre-season at The Stockade.
We began our campaign with an all-in Club meeting at AAMI Park where Rebels Head Coach Kevin Foote spoke in front of staff, players, coaches and board members including Rebels Chairman Paul Docherty and Director’s Gary Gray and Owain Stone.
Foote presented this year’s team themes, touching on the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat and what true connection means in behaviours and actions.
After this the players got stuck into training beginning with a traditional Day 1 Bronco, with James Tuttle, Mason Gordon, Jack Maunder and Ryan Louwrens all standouts.
The following day our boys ripped in first thing on Melbourne Cup morning, rolling up their sleeves for two hours worth of rolling at the Melbourne Jiu-Jitsu Academy.
On Thursday morning the Rebels officially unveiled their 2024 Playing Squad with some of the Club’s new signings and strong top-end talent exciting rugby pundits across Australia.
To round out an intense first week of pre-season training, all players and staff came together for a lunchtime seafood BBQ on the Yarra River supplied by partner Stephen Dellabarca from Island Bay Seafood.
Rebels Media caught up with one of the Rebels senior figures, Matt Gibbon, to wrap up the big week and share his excitement for the year ahead.
Gibbo, we kicked-off the week with an all-in Club meeting. Take us through your experience of that and how did it make you feel?
It was so good to all come together and have such a big start to the year. Footey, obviously speaks so well. In the past couple of years, we just got right into it without properly speaking about culture and how we’re going to put that into action on the field. It was powerful and especially cool to hear Footey talk about family as well. I’m really excited.
You’re one of our most experienced players in the squad and a fan favourite - what’s your focus heading into your sixth pre-season with the Rebels?
For me, my biggest work-on is scrums. The big thing Kevin is focusing on is connection and there’s no better place on a rugby field to connect than scrums. Outside of rugby and inside of rugby, we work on our connections, our set piece, our friendships with each other and that’s the biggest work-on for me.
You’ve had a massive 12 months off the field, talk about that?
I had a little baby at the start of this year’s season and she’s given me a hard time. Having a little girl and 4:30 AM wake ups before training has been tough but I love it and it’s been another thing that’s enhanced my perspective, which helps my training.
We had our official squad unveiling yesterday. Some big names - old and new. We've got a stacked front row, rich in international talent, plus a number of exciting youngsters coming through the ranks. How excited are you to rip in alongside so many Wallabies and is this potentially the strongest front row you’ve played alongside with?
I love the team we have. Having Taniela sign is awesome - he’s great on and off the field. I actually played with Lukhan in second grade colts with Sydney back in the day, so it was so good seeing him again. Obviously he’s gone on to Wallabies and more, so it’s awesome to see him alongside the new guys who have come down to Melbourne with their family and experience this amazing city.
This is probably the most stacked Wallabies front row I’ve played with. You look at the experience as well, especially at tighthead. You’ve got Pone, Taniela and Sam Talakai - who’s going to be starting there? It’s an amazing thing we have going there. There’s going to be some tough scrum sessions coming up, so I’m excited. There’s some amazing talent we have, and it’s going to be a great year ahead.