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Flashy jersey might not cut it

21 February 2022
melbourne rebels super rugby 2022 headshots session_ray nu'u
Ray Nu'u. Getty Images.

The Otago Daily Times series looks at the fortunes of the 12 teams in the new Super Rugby Pacific competition. Hayden Meikle finds out more about the Rebels.

Coach: Kevin Foote. The former South African sevens player gets the permanent role after stepping up in an interim capacity halfway through last season. One of his assistants will be former Otago man Ryan Martin.

Star forward: There are no real rock stars in the Rebels pack but there is plenty to like about Rob Leota, the all-action flanker who was a bolter in the Wallabies last year.

Star back: It seemed like Andrew Kellaway came out of nowhere in 2021, but he finished the year as a try-scoring wizard on the wing for the Wallabies. Hopefully for the Rebels, he is not a one-season wonder.

Exciting prospect: Well, his first name suggests he could be a very decent first five. Carter Gordon has plenty of confidence and all the skills, and will have a golden opportunity to develop each week.

Nickname (rated out of 10): 6. Loved it when it was the all-conquering Otago netball team in 1998. An Australian rugby team? Meh.

Jersey (rated out of 10): 9. Classy, and the colour combinations are striking. Big fan of this jersey. (Update: I’ve just seen the 2022 jersey. Top half, normal. Bottom half, goodness me.)

Random player from history: Kevin O’Neill. Remember ‘‘Monster’’ O’Neill? Played one test for the All Blacks — at Carisbrook — and was part of the inaugural squad in 2011.

Wait, he plays on this team?: From Miller Park to Melbourne — Green Island midfield back Ray Nu’u was a surprise signing for the Rebels after missing the cut for the Highlanders.

Last year: Won three games out of eight in Super Rugby AU. Got smashed in Transtasman, losing all five games after opening with a 50-3 loss to the Blues. Covid affected the Rebels more than any of the Australian franchises, and they will be eager for a run of games at home.

Predicted finish: 9th. It might be a place higher if they had not lost star winger Marika Koroibete to Japan. The Rebels should be OK-ish in 2022, and a playoff place is not out of the question. But they will need almighty seasons from Kellaway and experienced backs Matt Toomua and Reece Hodge.

Republished courtesy of the Otago Daily Times.

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