Melbourne Rebels 2020 Season Preview - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Melbourne Rebels 2020 Season Preview

Melbourne Rebels 2020 Season Preview

The new Super Rugby season is finally upon us and I for one am getting a little excited for the season ahead.

Will this the Melbourne Rebels 10th season finally be the year that we can crack the finals hoodoo.

2019, in a nutshell

Just in case you missed last season…

Expectations were high at the beginning of 2019. The Rebels started the season with a bang winning their first 3 games and having 6 wins by the halfway mark of the season. The Rebels actually topped the conference ladder until the end of the 12th round and maintained a position in the top 8 all the way to the final round. Sadly, a maiden finals appearance was not to be finishing the season with two heavy defeats to Kiwi opposition.

The Rebels finished 2019 second in the Australian Conference and 11th overall with a total of seven wins and a points differential of -72. Although the Rebels only left the top 8 after the final round defeat they really did not deserve to make finals on 2019 performance. Let’s hope Dave and the players have learnt some valuable lessons from their disappointment and have worked out a winning formula to see this side make finals in 2020.

Ins and outs

The Rebels have a big list of ins and outs going into 2020, most notable loses are Adam Coleman, Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Jack Maddocks. The players who have arrived down in Melbourne who I am most looking forward to seeing what they can bring are Frank Lomani, Andrew Kellaway and Michael Wells as well as Matt Toomua having a full preseason with the tea,.

In: Andrew Deegan, Cabous Eloff, Andrew Kellaway, Josh Kemeny, Boyd Killingworth, Gideon Koegelenberg, Frank Lomani, Ryan Louwrens, Declan Moore, Cameron Orr, Harry Potter, Ruan Smith, James Tuttle, Michael Wells

Out: Robbie Abel, Adam Coleman, Quade Cooper, Ben Daley, Stu Dunbar, Tetera Faulkner, Will Genia, Harrison Goddard, Sam Jeffries, Jack Maddocks, Hugh Roach, Michael Ruru, Sam Talakai, Sione Tuipulotu

Will Genia superman fingers Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

Will Genia departs for a stint in Japan.

Onward and Upwards

Everyone is predicting the Rebels to finish weaker than last season, while the player turnover has been large, but this year we’ve retained a number of players that featured in our starting 23 from 2019.  Continuity will be key.

With a little luck in developing a good 9/10 combo, the Rebels have the depth and talent in the backline to post some big scores on the board. I predict a top 2 finish in the conference behind the Brumbies again.

As always the Rebels forwards are the worry, especially the front row being fairly untested.  After spending most of 2019 on the sidelines, star Wallaby Jordan Ulese will once again miss the first few rounds through injury.  The loss of Coleman is not as big as a worry from my point of view; he missed a lot of game time last season with various injuries, and I expect Matt Phillip and Luke Jones to step up and fill the void.

In the club’s 10th year, we might have our first player to reach the centurion club. Tom English is set to become the first Rebel to reach 100 caps for the club. Currently sitting on 94 caps, and if everything going to plan, he will be running out at AAMI Park when he achieves the milestone.  His versatility in the backline and try-scoring ability makes him a key member of the Rebels squad.  It would be a great reward for Tom to enter the history books as the first Rebels centurion.

Tom English – a great servant to the Club

I also expect to see a healthy battle for top try scorer between Hodge, Eglish and 2019 John Eales Medallist, Markia Koroibete.

Marika Koroibete 

Marika Koroibete – the backline wisard, and try-scoring machine.

My best matchday 23

If the entire list is available and fit, this is who’d I pick.

1: Matt Gibbon
2: Jordan Uelese
3: Ruan Smith
4: Matt Philip
5: Luke Jones
6: Michael Wells
7: Angus Cottrell
8: Isi Naisarani
9: Frank Lomani
10: Matt Toomua
11: Marika Koroibete
12: Billy Meakes
13: Reece Hodge
14: Tom English
15: Dane Haylett-Petty (c)

16: Anaru Rangi
17: Pone Fa’amausili
18: Jermaine Ainsley
19: Esei Haangana
20: Rob Leota
21: James Tuttle
22: Andrew Deegan
23: Andrew Kellaway

Fixture

Round 1: Sunwolves (A)
Round 2: Brumbies (A)
Round 3: Waratahs (H)
Round 4: Sharks (H) Ballarat
Round 5: Highlanders (A)
Round 6: Lions (H)
Round 7: Bye
Round 8: Sunwolves (H)
Round 9: Stormers (A)
Round 10: Jaguares (A)
Round 11: Reds (A)
Round 12: Crusaders (H)
Round 13: Blues (H)
Round 14: Waratahs (A)
Round 15: Bye
Round 16: Brumbies (H)
Round 17: Chiefs (A)
Round 18: Reds (H)

As you can see the Rebels have a pretty mixed draw, starting away in Japan followed by a trip to the capital. A home game against the Tahs before a regional trip to Mars stadium to face the Sharks. A tough road trip in the middle of the season will sort out this teams finals chances before they finish with four home games in the last six games.

 Fearless Preduction

A roller coaster of a season, I think the Rebels will finish 2nd in the conference and just sneak into finals having learnt from the previous two seasons close calls. Please don’t leave it up to a win in the final game of the season again.

  • Hoss

    Jeez Kev, i think you may have imbibed to much of the cool aid. The pack lacks mongrel and edge, the bench has as much impact as my aging loins, a new 9, a 10 who talks a lot about being a worthy international 10 but has never shown much to state the case and a coach who has had better cattle before this mob and done Nada and will be axed by seasons end. Moon-doggies aside, you blokes are the roofers apprentice, down the bottom, holding the ladder.

    • Geoffro

      Harsh , but agree.

      • Hoss

        Mr G – the truth (according to Hoss and subject to change without notice) shall set you free.

    • Kevino

      Phillip, Jones and Naisarani don’t have enough Mongrel for you?

      Agree about 10, except his never really had that extended period at 10 for a long period of time.

      • Hoss

        Nope. Happy to be wrong and all for Oz teams exceeding expectations but i wouldn’t lose any sleep as an opposing piggy coming up against the Frebels pack. Chatted with Issy (the good one, not the god one) at the airport in Brissy after last years FISM’s test and while athletic hes not overly big for an 8, granted i do love watching him play though. As a unit i just reckon they will be found wanting – same for my Tah’s i put them in same boat. For mine its the Ponies & Reds who will make the pointy end from this great southern land.

        • Keith Butler

          Name dropper but the photographic evidence is unimpeachable. The Rebs will get ironed out in the front 5 and could well finish 4th in the final conference although that place may be reserved for the men in pale blue.

        • Hoss

          Yep, under no illusion with my Tahs, neck and neck with Frebs for the Oz spoon.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Harsh but probably more realistic

    • idiot savant

      Cruel, but entirely fair.

      • Hoss

        You got be cruel to be kind, in the right measure, cruel to be kind its a very good sign….

  • Juan_Time

    Bit harsh big man. Pack of workers true, with Isi and Uelese quality. But hard work might be enough and at least equal of tahs, if slightly behind reds and brums.
    No Oz team has a proven 10, and To’omua brings a lot of test and international experience. Also thought Frank Lomani looked class at RWC for Fiji and Louwrens was excellent at the Force.
    I’d like to see some genuine development and opportunities for the big boppers Leota, Ha’angana, and particularly Hosea who was part of the outstanding U20’s. Also be nice to see Magnay take the next step.
    That said, could easily be 1st or 4th in group.

    • Hoss

      Possibly mate and happy to be wrong. Just thinking Kepler hasn’t done much with the Rebs to date and to my eye, his previous squads where better on paper and didn’t do much so what chance this mob ? But apart from them playing Tahs, Ponies or Reds I will be cheering them on.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Nothing like a healthy dose of optimism mate. It’d be good to see the Rebels move on from last season. I thought they struggled to develop a game plan that could change to meet the different way a game developed more than anything else and that speaks of a poor coaching setup. Wessel needs to show more this year. I hope Meeks steps up this year, he demonstrated a lot of potential last year but seemed to fall off when it counted.
    Personally I think they’ll struggle to get ahead of the Reds and Brumbies but good luck

Melbourne Rebels

Irish born Melbournian who loves all things Rugby so really grew up in the wrong city. Munster, Rebels, Ireland, B&I Lions.

More in Melbourne Rebels