Melbourne Rebels flanker Sean McMahon has given Wallabies coach Michael Cheika another reminder of his Test credentials with a starring performance in Saturday’s Super Rugby win over the Sunwolves.
McMahon steered the team to a 35-9 bonus point victory over the expansion club in Tokyo – the Rebels’ third win in four games – to continue their best ever start to a season.
The 21-year-old, who has six Test caps, has been stand-in skipper in the absence of injured halfback Nic Stirzaker and has grown in the role each week.
He delivered a rousing performance with a game-high 15 runs for 104 metres including scoring his side’s fourth try.
McMahon also led the tackle count for the match to make sure he’s high on Cheika’s list for June’s three-Test series against England.
Melbourne coach Tony McGahan says McMahon epitomises the fight in the Rebels.
“You saw the way that Sean played, with his spirit and his fight – that epitomises the group and the belief within the group and also their mateship,” McGahan said.
“Whilst some of it is technical we think it’s the spirit part is the key part of how we defend.”
Once a Rebels weakness, since taking over as coach in 2013 McGahan has turned defence into their strength.
They repelled at least three Sunwolves raids on their tryline in much the same manner as they did the week previous in their win over the Reds, who battered their line at the death with a victory up for grabs.
McGahan praised the efforts of his forward pack for their role in the win over the Sunwolves.
“The forwards and their set piece defence was great and really gave us a great platform for us to defend in general phase and the players certainly turned up and defended well with a lot of patience,” he said.
With McMahon leading the way, the Rebels backrow including Adam Thomson and Jordy Reid, caused constant headaches for the Sunwolves at the breakdown, forcing six turnovers to one.
“Together they play really well together and we think they’re one of the best backrows in the competition and they’re really important of where we are at this stage of the season,” McGahan said.
“The backrow influence on games is significant and we’re lucky with the players we have.”