The Melbourne Rebels are out to crack their first Super Rugby win over the Queensland Reds, who sit below them on the competition ladder.
The Melbourne Rebels pack are looking to take advantage of a James Slipper-less Reds and crack their first Super Rugby win in Brisbane on Saturday night.
The Rebels had a disappointing 25-15 loss to the Hurricanes but their pack, led by prop Laurie Weeks, couldn’t be faulted.
Slipper is still sidelined for a dangerous tackle and will miss the Melbourne game as his flailing team, who were last round humbled by the Crusaders, try to find some winning form.
Weeks said Test prop Slipper was a linchpin for the Reds but it was still going to be tough to crack their first win after six straight losses to the Queenslanders.
“That’s a huge loss for them,” said Weeks, who started his Super career with Queensland.
“He’s the head honcho of their forward pack and we’ll try to take advantage of that.
“But they’re still a Wallaby-laden team; I think of their starting 15, 13 are Wallabies.”
Recovered from two head knocks which interrupted his season, Weeks said he felt like things clicked against the Hurricanes.
“As a tight head prop set piece and scrums went really well so that’s my forte and the responsibilities lie on me so when that goes well I consider that a good game,” he said.
Weeks said coach Tony McGahan challenged the Melbourne forwards to “find an identity” and he felt that they’d done that.
“We found that in the way that we work for each other; we may not be the biggest or best but we’ll work hard.”
Experienced Kiwi Toby Smith is rated a strong chance of recovering from nerve damage to his shoulder which has sidelined him for the past two games.
The Rebels will have a special focus on discipline after six successive penalties in the second half dented their chances of taking control of the Hurricanes game.
While Melbourne are disappointed that their improved form has only seen them snag three wins, Weeks said the Reds would also be stinging after only managing the same to sit below the Rebels on the competition ladder.
“They would be surprised because I think they’d expect a lot more from themselves but they’re still a very good side,” he said.