Sefa Naivalu of the Rebels, left, with Sione Tuipulotu in action last year.
Sefa Naivalu of the Rebels, left, with Sione Tuipulotu in action last year. Ross Setford

Rebels coach says bring on the pressure

RUGBY UNION: Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan wants a weight of expectation heaped on his side's shoulders as it tries to break its Super Rugby finals duck this season.

It's becoming the stock standard question at this time of the year - will this be the season that the Rebels make the playoffs for the first time.

But going in to his fourth year as coach, McGahan says he is not sick of the question.

It comes a day after Australian Rugby Union chief operating officer Rob Clarke said "the expectation is there now for the Rebels to perform", six years after the club's inception.

Wallabies great Tim Horan said last week that he believed this could be the year the Rebels make the top eight.

"I've worked amongst this group for seven years and expectation is a great thing," McGahan said.



"We really want people to have great expectations of us.

"I think it's great, it drives you, it keeps that little bit of fear in the group and puts forward that thing of really going out to prove something.

"When you're irrelevant, or people don't care, or people don't ask that question, then you should be concerned.

"Since I've come in (as head coach) three years ago, I really want that expectation.

"We really want people thinking about us being good, expecting us to be good.

"We expect it of ourselves, but it's nice to have that external expectation. So we certainly don't shy away from it."

While losing experienced campaigners such as Luke Jones, Scott Fuglistaller, Tamati Ellison and Mike Harris, the Rebels have recruited well in the form of Jack Maddocks, Amanaki Mafi, Dominic Day and Ben Volavola.



But without doubt the biggest off-season addition has been Melbourne Storm convert Marika Koroibete, who is set to light Super Rugby up on the wing.


And while he is keen to ramp up the expectation around his playing group as a whole, McGahan also wasn't tempering expectations on Koroibete heading in to his professional club rugby debut.

"Everyone is genuinely excited for him," McGahan said.

"And the things that he was really good at for the Melbourne Storm he'll still be really good at in rugby.

"People have got expectations and expect him to do well, but I'm sure he does too."