Rebels must build on "dream start": Wessels
Rebels coach Dave Wessels admits his side’s 3-0 record is the “dream start” to their Super Rugby campaign, having overcome a six day turnaround to stamp themselves as Australian Conference contenders.
The 33-10 win over the Brumbies marks the arrival of Wessels’ side as while they have looked impressive in their two wins prior, they came against an undermanned Reds and plucky Sunwolves side.
The Brumbies – while not off to the best of starts this year – are reigning conference champions and present a unique challenge in their style of play.
So to beat them and claim a bonus point in the process was “pretty special”, according to Wessels.
“It’s a bit of a dream start,” he said post match.
“To not only win the game but to win it with a bonus point is pretty special.
“Sam Carter was saying in the media this morning that these derby games are almost like a 10 point win because not only are you winning but the opposition is not winning so it’s a really important win for us.”
The story of the match, per the Rebels coach, was the unity his side showed when under the pump in the first half, when the Brumbies burst out of the gates.
“To be honest I think the real story of the game is what we have been able to achieve as a team over the last couple of months,” Wessels said.
“I think we look like a team and feel like a team and I think a lot of people didn’t think that was going to be possible.
“There was a point in the game where there was a stoppage in play and all our boys came into a huddle and put their arms around each other.“It was a spontaneous thing but it was pretty special.
“I think the boys are playing for each other and that’s what is making the difference at the moment.”
While the side has bonded together in a short period time, Wessels also lauded his team’s professionalism off the back of a six day backup – a scenario in which 30 percent of teams win the following week.
“We’ve had a six day turnaround with international travel from Japan and I think a lot of this win was set up by the way the players committed themselves to recovery.
“Almost as the final whistle went in Tokyo this time last week they did everything that was expected of them, got their bodies right.”
The engine room work of Ross Haylett-Petty – who slotted into the starting XV in Adam Coleman’s absence – also flashed the depth Wessels has at his disposal.
“I said before the game that in a weird way I was pleased when Adam was injured because it is hard to leave a guy like Ross on the bench,” Wessels said.“He’s 122kg and plays like a backrower.
“He gets through a huge amount of work, he’s tough and I thought he played really well.
“One of the points of difference four our team is the back five of our scrum and how physical they are.”
Another significant Australian Conference clash awaits next Sunday, when the Rebels face the Waratahs at Allianz Stadium.
Wessels is wary of the fight the Tahs have shown in starting their season with a win and a draw against South African foe, despite facing some sticky situations.
“What they have shown is some fighting spirit,” he said.
“They seem to have been out of the odd game and they’ve fought back.
“They’re never going to be easy and certainly playing them in Sydney is never going to be easy.”
Coleman appears set to return to the starting XV, with Wessels admitting his captain could have played tonight if the match was at the pointy end of the year.
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