After their best pre-season, the Melbourne Rebels are itching to start their Super Rugby season which opens against the Cheetahs next week.

Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan isn’t letting up on the pressure a week before their Super Rugby opening match against the Cheetahs.

The Rebels have the bye this weekend so are counting the days before the AAMI Park match next Friday night against the South Africans.

McGahan is using the extra time to wring even more effort from his players at training by keeping them in the dark about his preferred line-up.

“We’ve got a few training days before we need to name the squad,” McGahan said.

“We’ve been training for 30 weeks so there’s not too many surprises.

“Everyone’s had plenty of time to put their best foot forward and impress.”

Before this season, Melbourne had never won a pre-season match and have won three this campaign, including beating interstate rivals NSW and Queensland.

While saying they still had plenty to work on, McGahan said the players deserved a pat on the back for their efforts, particularly in defence and at the breakdown which were a focus for the pre-season.

“There were some real positives.

“We had 42 turnovers on defence in forced tackles which is a huge stat for us.

“Our ability to draw penalties from scrums is huge and we were able to hold out games.

“We gave up early points in each game which is a concern but our ability to hold on and find a way to win has been a huge plus for the group.”

McGahan named his leadership group this week which included lock Hugh Pyle, flanker Scott Fuglistaller, prop Laurie Weeks and centre Tom English.

Pyle is in the sights of Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie after being named in expanded training squads last season.

McGahan said the 25-year-old was a “keeper of standards” at the club and forecast a big year ahead.

“He’s got high ambitions for the group and for himself,” McGahan said.

“He’s taking the next step to be a Wallabies player and our job as coaches is to help him along the next step to do that.

“Hugh’s got a huge influence on the group and he being in that leadership role will only enhance that.”