Traditional strugglers, the Rebels come into the 2017 Investec Super Rugby season with one of their strongest squads.
Home: AAMI Stadium, Melbourne
Last season: 12
Cruze Ah-Nau, Steve Cummins, Dominic Day, Jack Debreczeni, Tom English, Colby Fainga’a, Pama Fou, Harley Fox, Jackson Garden-Bachop, James Hanson, Reece Hodge, Mitch Inman, Sam Jeffries, Marika Koroibete, Pat Leafa, Rob Leota, Tyrel Lomax, Jack McGregor, Sean McMahon, Jack Maddocks, Amanaki Mafi, Ben Meehan, Tim Metcher, Tom Moloney, Sefa Naivalu, Jonah Placid, Jordy Reid, Culum Retallick, Dominic Shipperley, Siliva Siliva, Toby Smith, Mick Snowden, Nic Stirzaker, Lopeti Timani, Alex Toolis, Sione Tuipulotu, Jordan Uelese, Laurie Weeks.
The son of an All Black and a Black Fern, Jackson Garden-Bachop comes from pretty decent pedigree. The 22-year-old first five-eighth has impressed for the Wellington Lions at Mitre 10 Cup level but has faced a log jam of talent to progress to a New Zealand Super Rugby squad. The Rebels were smart in picking up the talented pivot. Garden-Bachop is a clinical long range goal kicker and superb tactician. With ball in hand, Garden-Bachop has developed his line breaking ability over the past season also.
Following in the footsteps of Australian rugby league converts like Lote Tuqiri and Wendell Sailor, former Melbourne Storm star Marika Koroibete is set to unleash his skills on the Super Rugby stage. Koroibete was regarded as one of the most dangerous players in the NRL and racked up 34 tries in just 58 games for the Storm. A devastating ball runner with genuine pace, Koroibete provides the Rebels with a match-winner out wide.
Although he is just 24-years-old, halfback Nic Stirzaker has been a regular fixture at the Melbourne Rebels since his debut in 2011. The Rebels rate the talented halfback highly and his elevation to captain for the 2017 season is testament to that. With a swift pass, dangerous running game and a proficient boot, Stirzaker will be hoping 2017 is the season he truly moves into the top bracket of Australian halfbacks.
One thing is for sure, the Melbourne Rebels will be no walkover in 2017. With a strong leadership group complimented by a number of young stars and high profile league convert Marika Koroibete, the Rebels will be capable of knocking any team over on their day. While always strong at their Melbourne home base, the Rebels will need consistency away from home if they are to make the playoffs.