Sink or swim time for Rebels
Sink or swim time for RebelsSHARE
Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan is wary that the franchise will likely lose a portion of their home supporters if they are unable to produce the goods this season.
The Rebels have gradually improved in their three seasons of Super Rugby – moving up from 15th in their debut season to 13th in 2012 and 12th last year – but have some way to go towards inspiring Victoria fans to believe that they can make a run at the play-offs.
The perennial success and proven popularity of Rugby League side the Melbourne Storm increase the demand for the Rebels to deliver results, or risk losing their local fan base.
Having lost Wallaby stars James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale, who for all their controversy last year were major draw cards for the clubs, wins could be even harder to come by for the Rebels this season.
McGahan refused to sidestep the issue, saying instilling greater self-belief and plugging their leaky defence will be key to proving their worth.
"For us we really want to make sure we're consistent. Winning our home games is the No.1 priority," he told AAP.
"We know there's not a lot of time and patience out there for any code or any team for that mater.
"We have been in the competition three years and in normal circumstances we've got longer, but we understand the market we're in.
"We're under no illusions we need to get results to have a team and a style of play members can identify with. And that's in a tough market down there with the Melbourne Storm who do exceptionally well."
Scrumhalf Luke Burgess said McGahan’s influence has been apparent during the pre-season, with the team undefeated in their warm-up matches.
"He's not prepared to ask someone to do something he's not prepared to do himself," Burgess said.
"His work ethic is incredible, I've never met anyone like him in rugby. It's pretty inspirational to hear him talk about his expectations."