Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan rates Friday’s Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies as the biggest in the team’s history.
The Rebels (23 points) need to win the AAMI Park match to stay with the Brumbies and Waratahs (both 25) in the battle for the Australian conference’s guaranteed finals berth as the playoffs loom.
“It’s our biggest game at the club, there’s no denying that,” McGahan said of the Rebels’ eight years in the competition.
“We haven’t been in this position when we’ve got an opportunity to go forward and be in control going into the later end of the season.
“I don’t think it’s the end of the side if we don’t win, but if we don’t win we won’t be in control and that’s dangerous with four or five games to go.”
Former Wallaby Mike Harris will play his first match since a round one quad injury and McGahan said the sharp-shooting fullback was an option to take over the goal-kicking from Jack Debreczeni, who has the worst success rate in the competition.
McGahan said he would leave it to the pair to sort out as Harris hadn’t kicked much during his time on the sidelines and might leave the longer attempts to his teammate.
There are a number of Wallaby players set to battle head to head with the showdown between ferocious Rebels flanker Sean McMahon and Test incumbent David Pocock a stand-out.
McGahan was backing his man.
“We think Sean’s been at the forefront of all the good things we’ve done and he’s been there consistently which is difficult to do in Super Rugby,” McGahan said.
“He’s stood out in every game so far.”
Former Test centre Morgan Turinui has joined Rebels as an consultant attack coach for the remainder of the season. The 34-year-old replaces Leo Crowley.
Ranked 12th in the competition for tries scored, McGahan admitted his team needed some more attacking ideas.
“We’re really excited about what Morgan can bring, being a former Test player and with a lot of Super Rugby experience.
“He’s played overseas, coached overseas and has been coaching at Randwick this year and has done a really good job.”