Rebels 'well-placed' for Cheetahs
March 28, 2013
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Melbourne Rebels have made six changes to the starting side to face the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, four positional, and Gareth Delve says they are "well placed to put in a good performance" after their humiliating defeat by the Sharks in Durban.
The Rebels are heavy underdogs having copped a franchise-record 61-7 loss to the Sharks, who ran in 10 tries, while the Cheetahs return home after recording a hat-trick of tour victories against the Highlanders, New South Wales Waratahs and Western Force. Delve is in no doubt about the challenge his team faces this weekend. "This team are all it in together," the Rebels captain said. "I'm proud of the players, and I expected this response. We reviewed the game completely honestly, the response has been fantastic and we are all well placed to put in a good performance."
The Sharks battered the Rebels with a physical performance at Kings Park, but coach Damien Hill has made his changes because the Cheetahs play a different style of rugby.
Richard Kingi comes into the side to replace suspended Cooper Vuna, with Jason Woodward switching from the right wing to the left. Paul Alo-Emile and Jordy Reid replace Laurie Weeks and Scott Fuglistaller at tight-head prop and openside flanker respectively, while Delve and Scott Higginbotham swap positions at blindside and No. 8 and James O'Connor and Angus Roberts switch with each other at fly-half and fullback.
"Both Jordy Reid and Paul Alo-Emile will come into the starting side and get opportunities in that starting XV based on their cameos off the bench over the last three or four games, but particularly their efforts when they came on against the Sharks," Hill said
"In many ways, the Cheetahs will be an even bigger challenge than the Sharks were. They play a more expansive game, and it will be very hard up at high altitude."
Delve and Hill each said the Rebels were determined to regain the respect of the fans and members, saying the thrashing by the Sharks and the post-match incident that led to Kurtley Beale and Vuna being sent back to Australia had been sobering and embarrassing.
"The media fallout over the last couple of days has allowed us to be aware of the level of disappointment felt by our fans and members," Delve said. "We're very sorry for the pressure we have put on everybody back home, but now we have a great opportunity to put that right against the Cheetahs. We have worked hard on our culture and team spirit over the last three seasons, but we have been criticised heavily because of this massive blip; now we need to concentrate on performing."
Hill agreed that it had been a tough week, but he said that he was pleased with the response of his squad.
The Rebels are playing for pride after their shellacking by the Sharks (video available only in Australia)
"The week started slow, but training yesterday was a real step up," Hill said. "We can't escape what happened, but events like this bring the players and our organisation back home together, and I am really pleased with the ways the players have refocused for the big game.
"Everybody was embarrassed and angry after the last game. There have been a couple of very direct and honest meetings, and the players held their own review. Now we are back in the swing of it, motivation levels are high and we have been given an opportunity for the team to show their true character, which has been rightfully questioned."
Rebels: James O'Connor; Richard Kingi, Mitch Inman, Lachlan Mitchell Jason Woodward; Angus Roberts, Nick Phipps; Scott Higginbotham, Jordy Reid, Gareth Delve (captain); Luke Jones, Hugh Pyle; Paul Alo-Emile Ged Robinson, Nic Henderson. Replacements: Shota Horie, Laurie Weeks, Cadeyrn Neville, Jarrod Saffy, Scott Fuglistaller, Nic Stirzaker, Rory Sidey, Tom English.
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