Fitness first as Rebels seek Super success

Nov 23, 2017 - 5:37 AM Incoming Melbourne coach Dave Wessels is making no apologies for putting his players through a tortuous pre-season, saying their fitness isn't good enough to challenge for the Super Rugby title.

Wessels said some of the Melbourne Rising players from the NRC needed to do a three-week pre-season before the official pre-season just to be able to manage the load.

"What separates winning teams from losing teams is intensity and I think the players have found the intensity of our training and preparation probably a shift up from what they've been used to," Wessels said on Thursday.

"If we want to play rugby in the way that we want to play, which is moving the ball around and taking risks, we can't even start to talk about those things unless we're fit.

"There's a huge huge way to go between finishing last and first which is our ultimate goal."

As well as fitness, Wessels said moulding the squad, with 11 Western Force players joining him in Melbourne, in such a short time frame would be a major challenge.

Wallabies such as lock Adam Coleman, who is the latest to sign on, as well as halfback Will Genia and backs Reece Hodge and Marika Koroibete, won't join training until early January, with their opening Super Rugby game on February 23 against Queensland.

Coleman underwent surgery this week to have pins inserted in his thumb but it wouldn't delay his return.

"From a talent perspective, we'll have plenty of talent to be competitive but the real challenge is whether we're prepared to play as a team and be brave in whatever we do," Wessels said.

Despite having more than a dozen players with Test experience, the coach said he planned to treat everyone equally, with selection wide open.

He was excited by what youngsters such as Jordan Uelese, Semesi Tupou, Harrison Goddard, Jack Maddocks and Jack McGregor brought to the mix.

"I have to treat all players equally and, if we're rewarding hard work, then I've got to be able to reward that through selection and that's how I earn credibility with the players," Wessels said.

"It's not about who they are and what they've done previously."

Source: AAP

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