Rebels' confidence up for Waratahs clash
May 20, 2013
James O'Connor is confident of returning from injury against New South Wales Waratahs © Getty Images
The Melbourne Rebels' drought-breaking Super Rugby win over the Stormers has created confidence they can achieve another breakthrough against New South Wales Waratahs on Friday night.
Last Friday night's thrilling 30-21 victory by the undermanned Rebels was their first over a South African side and broke a run of four frustratingly close losses.
James O'Connor, one of several Rebels stars who missed the game through injury, said the club's form had been steadily climbing since its horror 64-7 loss to the Sharks in Durban in March and hoped it was still heading up.
"We've been building towards this since South Africa," O'Connor told reporters after training on Monday. "We had a team chat after that Sharks game and said we're never going to get beaten like this again - we're going to put it all on the line. I think it's been a massive squad effort, if you look at all the injuries as well. Everyone's been on the same page. Our structures have held pretty well so we're hoping this is the start of something big."
The Rebels have never beaten the Waratahs, although they lost to them by just five points in Sydney early this season after leading by 10 at half-time.
"They had a great game against the Brumbies on the weekend but I think we're playing pretty consistently and we've got a good game plan that we're sticking to," O'Connor said. "We've got a very positive mindset and we're looking forward to hopefully getting our first win against the Waratahs. It's going to be a massive match for us."
O'Connor hopes to return from a chest injury.
"It's feeling really good," he said. "I've got to test it tomorrow at training. I think it's going to be contact that's going to be the difference. If I can get through that, I'll be putting my hand up."