Rebels lack star quality, says Cannon - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rebels lack star quality, says Cannon

By Melissa Woods 31/05/2010 02:49:18 PM Comments (0)

Former Test hooker Brendan Cannon is astounded by the Melbourne Rebels' inability to land a current Wallaby star and predicts a horror entry into the Super 15.

Last week Test rugby league star Israel Folau announced he would not join the Rebels after protracted negotiations, adding to a long list of players who've declined an offer from the new franchise.

More importantly, Melbourne have failed to lure any big name Wallabies ahead of their 2011 introduction to Super rugby.

When the Force joined an expanded competition in 2006 they signed Australia's best lock and Queensland skipper Nathan Sharpe, which gave the new side immediate credibility.

"It astounds me that they still don't have their roster full, if they'd managed to jag a Berrick Barnes or a Peter Hynes or a Benn Robinson, one of those guys they were targeting, they would have had their roster full by now," said Cannon, the first-ever player signed by the Force ahead of their 2006 debut.

"With the concessions that they were given they should have been highly competitive from day one and I'm astounded they haven't been able to capitalise on it.

"They've been really hamstrung by the fact that they haven't been able to secure a marquee, mid-20s player who's an established Wallaby like Nathan Sharpe was for the Force.

"All the younger guys looked at Sharpie and thought, if he's prepared to make the move and take the punt well that's good enough for me.

"Until they do, and it doesn't look as though they're going to, the fact that they haven't been able to secure someone of that ilk, a reasonably well-established Wallaby, highly-respected and regarded amongst their peers, they're going to really struggle to fill their side with that balance of talent."

The Rebels have been called a Dad's Army by some, after signing aging players such as Stirling Mortlock, Greg Somerville, Sam Cordingley and Julian Huxley.

They have young Test prop-in-waiting Laurie Weeks, who was last week included in the Wallabies squad, capped English five-eighth Danny Cipriani, and some emerging talent but otherwise their star power is dim.

Cannon questioned whether the signing of Rebels coach Rod Macqueen, who steered Australia to Rugby World Cup victory in 1999 amid multiple Bledisloe Cup wins, was the masterstroke it appeared.

"Rod Macqueen is 10 years out of the game, two years is a long time in rugby, 10 years is a life-time," he said.

"The current group of players wouldn't really know who Rod Macqueen is or what his credentials have been so that may not have been the masterstroke that people thought it would have become."

He said the Rebels were also victims of the recent success of Queensland, who lost a lot of players to the Force when they were starting up, at a time when the Reds were struggling on and off the field.

The timing of next year's World Cup in New Zealand also didn't help, with players unwilling to take a chance on the unknown and risk a possible representative berth.

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