The Rebels don’t have any special plans for Brumbies flanker David Pocock and are backing their men to match him in their crunch Super Rugby clash.
The Rebels will be bolstered on Friday by the return of some injured key players including former Test full-back Mike Harris, who hasn’t played since suffering a quad injury in Round One.
Bullocking lock Lopeti Timani as well as flanker Colby Fainga’a return to the starting side at AAMI Park while winger Tom English is playing his first game since Round Five from the bench.
Fainga’a tried to downplay the importance of the clash in terms of their finals hopes but said it was a match they want to win to try and build some momentum heading into the back end of the season.
To do that they need to stop Pocock but Fainga’a said the Rebels back-row of Sean McMahon, Adam Thomson and himself were up to it.
“David’s obviously one of the best in the world and has shown it consistently over the years so it will be a good test for our back-row,” Fainga’a said.
“We pride ourselves on our breakdown as well so we know that he’s there but I don’t think we’re going to change a whole lot.”
Fainga’a said it would be to his team’s peril to single out Pocock with so many other good players in the Brumbies line-up.
The Rebels had a breakthrough win in Canberra when they met last year although have only won three of 10 meetings.
After a brief stint at the top of the Australian conference the Rebels dropped back to third and face a tough run home to the finals.
Fainga’a said the team wasn’t putting too much pressure on themselves just yet.
“There’s still a few games to go so it’s not going to be end if we don’t win this game but I know we’ve put a lot of effort into this weekend,” he said.
However Rebels head coach Tony McGahan admitted it was a crucial match for his team, particularly with their next match away to the Chiefs, who only trail the Crusaders on points differential in the New Zealand conference.
“It’s exciting for the club to still be in the conversation at this point of the season but we’re under no illusion about the importance of this game so we need to back ourselves and our abilities for this opportunity,” McGahan said.