New territory for Rebels

Date published: January 5 2017

Rebels head coach Tony McGahan is adjusting to welcoming back several Wallabies into his pre-season training ahead of Super Rugby 2017.

In the past the Rebels have only had Sean McMahon returning from international duty, but late last year Reece Hodge, James Hanson, Lopeti Timani and Sefa Naivalu were involved in Michael Cheika’s side, with Marika Koroibete, Nic Stirzaker and Toby Smith also in camp.

That means those players are back in training later than the rest of the squad, which is a new occurrence for the Rebels ahead of a season.

“They’ve played a lot of rugby so we hope they’re well rested,” McGahan told AAP.

“That’s probably a bit of new territory for us as usually they’d come back in right at the beginning of January and you’d get five or six weeks preparation before you get into your trials.”

The Rebels will be looking to improve on their 12th-place finish of 2016 when they run out for the new season. They will need a solid playmaker to lead them and McGahan admits that the jersey is up for grabs between Jack Debreczeni, Jackson Garden-Bachop and Ben Meehan.

“We’re not closing anything on that,” he added.

“Jack Debreczeni has been there the last couple of years and Garden-Bachop has come in and is a good player and young Jack McGregor is a really good young 10.

“Before Ben hurt his elbow he was playing really well there so we have a few options, which we didn’t have last year.”