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McKenzie keeps tabs on new Rebels

23rd January 2014 06:42

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Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is keeping a close eye on two new props who have joined the Melbourne Rebels.

Australian born New Zealander Toby Smith and Brit Max Lahiff - who was born in London but qualifies to play for the Wallabies through his Australian father - have joined the Melbourne-based franchise and McKenzie has already been at Rebels training sessions to have a closer look at the duo.

"It starts up front for me and I'm interested in Max Lahiff coming here and Toby Smith; these sort of guys are probably less known in the Australian public but have done good things," McKenzie told AAP.

"I've followed them closely so there's some quality and experience up front in Melbourne."

25-year-old Smith joined the Rebels after four years with the Chiefs where he won back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013. And 24-year-old Lahiff, who is nicknamed "The Beef", played four years in the Aviva Premiership for London Irish.

McKenzie believes the Rebels are on track to improve their record of five wins in 2013, which saw them finishing in 12th spot in the standings, and feels Smith and Lahiff would add grunt to their pack.

"Attack-wise they had some really bright moments in the season; defence probably wasn't as good as they wanted but defence is Tony's (coach Tony McGahan) speciality so you'd expect some significant change there," he added.

"If they keep the same spirit in attack and improve their defence they're going to be far more competitive in those tight moments.

"The new faces up front in Smith and Lahiff I think will add a bit of starch and experience."

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PosTeamPPts
1Sharks831
2Brumbies825
3Chiefs825
4Waratahs824
5Western Force823
6Crusaders822
7Hurricanes821
8Highlanders719
9Bulls919
10Lions916
11Blues816
12Reds816
13Melbourne Rebels816
14Stormers810
15Cheetahs99