THE long-term future of the Melbourne Rebels is in doubt, but coach Tony McGahan insists his team’s short-term ambitions remain very much alive.
But even those dreams of a debut finals berth will become far-fetched if the Rebels don’t defeat the Australian Conference-leading ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park.
The Rebels have the unenviable task of putting behind them a week in which the prospect of the club folding became a very real one.
Lose again and the winless Rebels — the only Super Rugby team yet to record a 2017 victory — can consider their finals chances all but shot.
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But win and it’s game on, McGahan said, his surety stemming from the fact the Brumbies themselves have only won three of their six games thus far.
“That’s where it is,” he said.
“Through good fortune or whatever you call it the Brumbies are on three wins (and the rest are on) two (wins), two and one.
“So it’s all there. There’s some really hard games to go. We’ve had some hard games, but we’re really looking forward to turning things around this weekend.”
Until being let off the hook by the Australian Rugby Union on Sunday, the Brumbies were not safe from Super Rugby’s cull either.
Now it will come down to the Rebels or the Western Force as to who makes way in an abridged 15-team competition from next season.
But given the week’s tumultuous events, Brumbies co-captain Sam Carter said they were wary of the circumstances galvanising the Rebels.
“We’re heading down to Melbourne fully prepared and we’re not going to take them lightly at all,” Carter said.
Winger Sefi Naivalu returns for the Rebels, while fly-half Jackson Garden-Bachop has been dropped to the bench, giving Jack Debreczeni the chance to start in the halves alongside skipper Nic Stirzaker.
Such is the team’s player drain due to injury, backrow forward Hugh Sinclair could make his debut off the bench having only arrived at the club from Sydney on a short-term deal this week.
McGahan said: “We’ve come up with a simpler plan with what we need to do.
“We need to hit some strong targets and play with our best attackers on the ball as much as possible.”
– with AAP
Originally published as Can winless Rebels conjure Easter miracle?
SOURCE: newsnow sport