Rebels on rise off field and on: McGahan

Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan says within 12 months his Super Rugby side will be a force – on and off the field.

McGahan has brushed off criticism of the franchise after it was revealed the Australian Rugby Union bankrolled the Rebels to the tune of $3 million dollars last year.

“We can’t control that,” McGahan said of criticism.

“We understand where they’re coming from but all we need to do is be responsible for what we do and for our program.”

Despite the ARU funding, the Rebels are running their program on bare bones – unable to even hold their captain’s run at AAMI Park prior to home games this season because of the cost.

McGahan said he believed within a year the Rebels would be in a much better position, backing comments by chief executive Peter Leahy that another private sector partner arrangement was in the offing.

Ahead of their Anzac Day clash with the Waratahs, in Sydney the Rebels are in 11th position after beating the Brumbies in Canberra last round.

“I’ve no doubt within the next 12 months there will be some really positive actions happening with the club, not only on the field but also off.”

The coach pointed to Wednesday’s re-signing of dual title-winning prop Toby Smith as another marker the franchise is moving in the right direction.

Smith is one of 23 current players, including young Wallabies Sean MacMahon and Luke Jones, now signed beyond this season.

“It’s a great reflection of the playing group and staff … the biggest thing you need is stability in winning organisations,” McGahan said.

“We’ve all made sacrifices to come down here in the first point and we need to continue to make sacrifices to continue to build something.

“The playing group have strong faith about the direction that we’re going.”

Two years into a three-year deal, McGahan said it was “too early” for his own contract extension, but he wants to stay in Melbourne.

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