Rebels CEO sets sights on Super 15 finals - Green and Gold Rugby
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Rebels CEO sets sights on Super 15 finals

Rebels CEO sets sights on Super 15 finals

Acting Melbourne Rebels CEO, Pat Wilson, has declared the Melbourne Rebels will have the players necessary to compete for a finals spot in the expanded Super 15 when it kicks off in 2011. Speaking to G&GR Wilson was upbeat despite the sizeable bucket of shit dumped on the fledgling club by former Wallaby hooker, and budding media tart, Brendan Cannon.

Wilson seemed unfazed when asked about the comments “I haven’t seen them actually, but everyone is entitled to their opinion” he straight batted.

Canno's opinions aren't always welcome

The Rebels have been criticised in some sections of the media for their inability to attract a big-name star and instead going for over-the-hill types. Wilson was quick to point out the strategy behind the signings thus far was sound.

“The average of our squad at the moment is 26 or 27. We’ve got a significant objective of being competitive from game one and to do that you need match hardened, experienced people who’ve been ‘round the block a few times.

“Those sorts of guys don’t grow on trees. We’ve done our research, we’ve done our assessment and we’re very, very comfortable with our balance between experience and the next rung of players coming through the system.”

At present the club has signed 25 players, with the signing of Luke Rooney to be announced in the coming days, however they were still looking to fill the roster of 33 players. With recruitment an on-going process, Wilson was happy with how things were progressing and stressed the fact that the Rebels were not working to a deadline as such.

“We’re still challenging ourselves we can go to 33 (players signed) however we’ll see what the best balance is between 30 and 33. Recruitment is a fairly fluid process and we’re not under any sort of deadlines so it could be right up until the end of the year (until recruitment is complete).”

It will be interesting to see how the Rebels go about recruiting to the rest of the positions particularly with the decision of Izzy Folau to try his hand with the Sherrin rather than the Gilbert.

It leaves the Rebels a decent amount of coin to throw at players however Wilson didn’t seem to have any major targets in mind, well, none that he was telling me about anyway. He also took a thinly veiled swipe at Izzy inc.

“The offer to Israel always had a premium attached to it as we always thought there was value in him returning to Melbourne from an on and off-field perspective, we’re not hiding from that fact.

“We were a little bit disappointed with the process and some elements of the negotiations but we’re moving on.

“Israel was a unique circumstance as he approached us. We thought the fit was good so it’s not as if we were out in the market trying to recruit players of that ilk. We are certainly not going to sink or swim on the signing of one player.”

While the Rebels mightn’t have a big name mungo or a Wallaby darling in their ranks as yet, what they do have is some decent young talent already coming through the Victorian rugby system with four members of the 2009 Australian Schoolboy squad from Melbourne.

With the details of any academy system the Rebels might put in place still under negotiation with the ARU, Wilson stressed the Rebels were looking to develop their own talent, rather than knock it off from other states, (like the Tahs do I thought to myself!).

“We are looking at how we best establish and create a development pathway for players in the Victorian environment. We will continue to have dialogue with the ARU about the best way to move forward in that area but we are setting up a professional rugby team and one of the key elements is that we are joined at the hip with broader rugby community in Victoria.

“The fact there was four Victorian boys who made the Australian Schoolboy level indicates there is potential here and  the ARU granting the license to Melbourne has also signalled they believe there is potential.

“Our job will be to assist in the process of providing that pathway for schoolboys or young rugby players in Victoria and beyond.”

Things start getting serious for the Rebels come October when the squad will assemble and start training for their inaugural season. By then everything will be ready to roll facilities wise and the Rebels will be a functioning unit.

The draft draw for next year’s Super 15 has the Rebels taking on the Tahs then the Brumbies in the first two rounds. As the draw is in its draft form, Wilson did not want to comment on specifics but offered the response of “we would not be unhappy” if the Rebels were to meet the Tahs and Bumbies in the first two weeks….sounds like ‘bring it on” to me.

So what will the first season bring for the Rebels?

Off the field you get a sense that the club mightn’t turn a profit in its first year but it is not about short-run return. Wilson made mention of the significant costs start-up costs associated with the venture but was also quick to point out the club was “very comfortable” with where the off-field business was at.

I suppose the best way to sure up the off-field prospects of a rugby club is to achieve success on the field. It is the on field success where Wilson is certainly bullish.

“You can sense by my earlier comments and by the make-up of the squad, we anticipate coming out of the blocks and being competitive from game one.

“With the conference system and the new draw it is not beyond possibility of us realistically competing for one of the finals spots.”

Ok, so a CEO has to say that sort of stuff, but it might not be beyond the realms of possibility. After all,  who at the start of the 2010 season would have  predicted the Reds would be in at the business end?

Depending on whether you read the Australian or the Sydney Morning Herald, the Rebels are either the best thing since bottled beer or a disaster waiting to happen. In reality they are neither of those things, but after speaking to Pat Wilson, I think the Rebels will be  closer to the Oz’s assessment than the SMH’s.

  • dbla

    I’ll start to believe they have a shot at the finals when a quality inside centre signs on, every other position seems reasonably solid to me.

    • Patrick

      Where do you think Stirling Mortlock is going to play?

      • Andrew

        Outside centre myself. Cipriani fly half, Huxley inside, Mortlock Outside and Rooney fullback. They could actually do some damage

        • dbla

          I’d forgotten about hux he could probably do the job there, for mine I see rooney playing wing and gerrard at fullback with vuna on the other wing. As you say not too shabby at all

      • dbla

        Thats why I said quality inside centre, I would only play mortlock there if they can’t get anyone else. It isn’t like he will do a terrible job at inside but I just remember him playing for the wallabies there and the ball struggled to get outside of him…

        I’d love to see the rebels sign someone like ben tapuai who clearly deserves a regular shot at s15 but won’t get it in queensland unless faingaa gets injured. He is one of the few genuine inside centres running around, not a five eight or outside that happens to be able to play inside centre

        • Westo

          McKenzie confirmed the re-signings of QAS Reds Academy centre Ben Tapuai this week. Admittiedly, I do hope he gets a bit more of run next year to develop.

  • sammy

    Seen some of Rooney over for Toulouse or Toulon(not sure) at 15 and he’s in bloody good form.

    Smart move not going for lots of youth in a start up team, need a ezperienced base to get on with it and then build up some youth underneath.
    Be interesting to see if McQueen still has it or if other coaches will recall his M.O Either way they aren’t finalists next year.

  • bokboy

    how about steyn not morne the other one,he is a quality inside centre,and can also play wing or full back aswell as stick a penalty or drop from his own half,izzy’s money should cover that and you get more qaulity for your buck.

    • Patrick

      I guess because we hate you all…

      joke! Frans would be a good signing I agree.

  • bokboy

    we also need another hooker might i suggest strauss the young blonde tank from the cheetahs he may prefer melbourne to Bloemfontein anythings better than that hole.

  • I reckon Media Tart Canno is right. It’s unbelieveable that they’ve been unable to get even one current Wallaby (if you don’t count Mortlock).

    • DPK

      They may have another if Weeks is capped by the end of the year.

    • bokboy

      canno is a knob.lets get realistic the rebels will fill their roster with the 10 alloted international players until after the world cup and then some wallabies will get on board.We should now look at south africa,argentina and the pacific islands to fill the rest of the vacancies.

      • Juan Cote

        Rod Macqueen is overseas at the moment – offically on holidays but I don’t think that would stop him talking rugger with a few people would it?

  • Goochmeister

    I like the look of the Rebels. No superstars but after the RWC, I’d like to think they will get a few big names.You can’t expect them to win the comp in their first few years but they should be competitive with some hard heads (Stirlo) and giving some young-uns a chance.

  • ScrumJunkie

    Macqueen has been down this road, and was competative from the word go. He did it exactly the same way; older guys that were “has beens” or “just not good enough” from NSW and Queensland (such as David Knox, Brett Robinson, Melon to name just a few) and mixed them with some young local talent to build loyalty with the local population. The older guys teach the young ones and give them some confidence… Just think who those young locals with the brumbies were Larkham, Kafer, Roff, Marco Kaputo… all were later wallabies, including the old guys!

  • Darkhorse

    Forgetting the forwards, what i’m hoping for eventually in the backs is:
    9. Kingi, 10. Cipriani, 11. Rooney, 12. Huxley, 13. Vuna, 14. Betham,

  • Darkhorse

    Forgetting the forwards, what i’m hoping for eventually in the backs is:
    9. Kingi, 10. Cipriani, 11. Rooney, 12. Huxley, 13. Vuna, 14. Betham, 15. Gerrard.
    I reckon that halves partnership has the potential to excite like queensland. Hears to hoping that cipriani just needs an extra yr like cooper did. Vuna will be class eventually, probably not a wallaby with horne and chambers set to claim their spots.

    But i think they’ll probably start with cordingley and mortlock in the centres with vuna on the wings to break it in.

    • Bobas

      I dont know who Betham is, I was hoping to see drew turner on the wing for the rebels.

      • Bobas

        I mean Lachlan Mitchell

  • Homer J

    I don’t see how Huxley is an inside centre?

    Cords/Kingi, Cipriani/Huxley, Morts, Vuna with a back three of Gerrard, Rooney, Huxley, Betham etc

    They have a lot of height in the back row and four big second rowers, although their pace may be interesting. The front row with Weekes, Sommerville and Henderson will be solid. So their set pieces will be bang on to provide a platform for Macqueens ‘pin them in the corners’style. Huxley, Cipriani and Gerrard will just keep turingin the opposition around all day.

    • dbla

      I could be wrong but i vaguely remember huxley playing at inside at times for the brumbies a few years ago and not looking out of place, perhaps someone with a better memory can confirm?

      • Bobas

        He played 12 for the reds before he signed for the brums.

        It was his best season for the reds.

  • Westo

    Is any other Queenslander insulted by McQueens comment from SMH article:

    “…the Rebels are also victims of the recent success of Queensland, …”

    Come on Rod, we (QLD) have been victims for 6 + years and you expect an easy ride on Queensland bad run.

    I am not just referring to player pinch from franchises, but the Broncos pilfering all the academy players, the govts back pedal on the Ballymore development the lack of player loyalty vs cash (Mitchell and Valantine stand out a mile having played for 3 and 4 franchises respectively) amoungst other things internally.

    I am simply overwhelmed that we only lost three players to the rebels. Credit to Phil Mooney in previous outings persisting with developing players along with this years collective management putting that good work into play.

    May it continue because a strong Queensland is a strong Wallabies

    • Davo

      Actually, if you actually read the article properly you will see that it is Cannon who said the Rebels are victims of the success of Queensland NOT McQueen.

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I personally wonder about Cannon’s motives in this. Essentially, in the article he’s had a shot at the Rebels for not poaching talent, specifically not poaching talent from Queensland – he basically says that is what they should have been aiming to do!

      Personally I think it’s fantastic that, whether by accident or design, the Rebels are filling out their roster with players who needed a chance either because they were getting old or were too green. They have not appreciabily diluted the player talent in the other franchises like the force did when they entered. Ultimately this will build depth for Australia. Isn’t that exactly what a 5th team is all about?

      • bokboy

        yes i agree,depth acsoss the board is critical to the success of australian rugby and the oldies will be wanting to prove themselves still worthy of a world cup spot and the up and comers will be pushing hard too,with the guidance of the mature players hopefully we might see some exciting rugby.By the way when does membership and merchandise go on sale i can’t wait to go and choose my seat and take my place amongst the rebel army,i’ll have to pick up a few vuvazellas from my upcoming trip back home,lets make some noise.

  • Tangawizi

    Why don’t the Rebels pick up Tirunui? He was actually playing some pretty good rugby before Ewen dumped him. Certainly offers enough to still in a Super 15 squad rather than retired at 28 or however old he is.

    • Patrick

      Maybe he decided to cash out…couldn’t blame him!

    • bokboy

      he is too slow he will do well in France with the rest of the dinosaurs we need some strike power.

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