Rebels to 'trial' new faces
Rebels coach Damien Hill will use the pre-season matches against the Waratahs and Hurricanes to put on trial the host of new faces.
Rebels coach Damien Hill will use the pre-season matches against the Waratahs and Hurricanes to put on trial the host of new faces in the Melbourne-based outfit.
The Rebels will face the Tahs in Hobart and the Canes in Geelong as Hill fine-tunes his new look squad for what is shaping to be a massive 2013 season.
Next year will be the biggest in the history of Rugby Union in Victoria, with the British & Irish Lions in town and what Hill believes is the strongest Rebels squad to date.
Hill has been thrilled with the squad so far and the future of the code in the state in general.
"We've got 15 new faces in the squad this year and it's actually been a surprise how well they've fitted in," said Hill.
"In relation to previous years I'd say enthusiasm has taken a step up, and this year it's all about working hard. So far we're tracking well.
"The average age is now 23-and-a-half years, down from about 28 last year. But I think it's a credit to the senior players we've had and the culture they've left that the young players have really embraced and are building on.
"Overall there's that sense of youth about the club and a hard work ethic which is fantastic. We are in a great position at the doorstep of a massive year of Rugby Union in Victoria."
The Rebels will take on the Waratahs at North Hobart Oval on Saturday, February 2, a game that could see the NSW team unveil new star recruit Israel Folau for the first time.
A week later the Rebels return to Simonds Stadium in Geelong to face New Zealand opponents once again, this time the Hurricanes.
With the Rebels now in their third year competing in the Super Rugby competition, Hill is aware that taking games to country areas will only help to increase the amount of support the team gets and potentially the number of members.
"The support we're getting from the country and the Victorian Rugby Community has been fantastic. Last year we played the Chiefs [in Geelong] who ended up winning the competition, and we had a crowd of 6,000 which was fantastic," said Hill.
"This year we're also playing in Hobart and the players are really excited about that. We actually get to spend a bit of extra time down there in camp so it will be a good opportunity to get the players together as well."