Rebels ambitious in new era of derbies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rebels ambitious in new era of derbies

By Adrian Warren 13/09/2010 06:31:03 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne Rebels recruit Greg Somerville says the fledgling franchise has to "push for the top" right from the start of an expanded Super rugby competition.

The Rebels' inclusion increases the competition to 15 teams spread across three conferences of five, one each in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Organisers have trumpeted an increase in derby matches as one of the highlights of the competition revamp with all Australian fixtures increasing from six to 20.

Under the new format, the three conference winners will be joined by the next three highest points-scorers across the conferences, meaning one nation could supply up to four of the six finalists.

The two conference winners with the highest points total will have a bye in the first week of the finals, with the other four teams involved in sudden-death elimination matches.

The first weekend features six local derbies including the Rebels' clash with the Waratahs in Melbourne and the Reds facing the Force in Brisbane.

While Rebels coach Rod Macqueen trotted out the standard line about just wanting his team to be competitive, former All Blacks forward Somerville aspired to something higher.

"There's no point if we're going to set our sights on being also-rans, we've got to push for the top," Somerville said.

"Maybe modest expectations from other people, but hopefully the players don't have modest expectations. We want to push ourselves as hard as we can and be in the race at the end of it."

The youngest Australian Super franchise the Force haven't made the finals in their five years of competition and cagey Macqueen wasn't about to promise his team would do better.

However Macqueen, who enjoyed success with the Brumbies and Wallabies, said he was confident the Rebels would be competitive.

"We want to be a side that puts up a good fight. The chairman says we've got to win more than we lose," Macqueen said.

He said they had already earned "unbelievable acceptance" from the general public in Melbourne and he had a "really good dialogue" with AFL coaches.

Macqueen said his team would quickly discover where they stood after starting with matches against the Waratahs and Brumbies, who finished third and sixth respectively last season.

"They will be a bit of an unknown quantity that's for sure, but it's an exciting game for us to play, a historic game in Australian rugby and we're happy to be part of that," Waratahs coach Chris Hickey said.

Unlike last season, when NSW recruited three overseas-born players, the Waratahs are relying exclusively on home grown talent, though Hickey said he still had a couple of roster spots to fill.

New Force coach Richard Graham said his team still had five spots left on its roster and was hopeful his team could make their maiden finals appearance.

"We will play an attacking style of rugby but I'd like to incorporate the forwards into that a little more," Graham said.

Brumbies coach Andy Friend is still looking for a couple of outside backs to round out his list and believes the Brumbies are capable of winning their third Super title.

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said his team faced another challenge next year after being the big improvers of the 2010 campaign.

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