Rebels to focus more on defence in 2014

Rebels centre Tom English says that the Melbourne Super Rugby franchise will be more focused on defence in 2014 instead of the “razzle dazzle”.

The Rebels have always had a good attacking game but their weakness has been in their defence which has let tries slip through.

English however that those days are over and they will bring a strong defence into Super Rugby this season.

“Tony (McGahan) has pushed us a lot harder than I think we have been in the past,” he told the Herald Sun.

“We’ve moved in a new direction where we are a very defensive-orientated team, so we’ve been working hard on our contacts and our breakdowns.”

“We’re really looking forward to getting in to it.”

The Rebels have a history of giving up cheap points to opposition teams so the new enthusiasm for defence is hardly surprising.

English says that if all the players in the team buy into the new defence focus are if they are committed then it will work.

“We want it to be our point of difference,” English said.

“We’re going to hurt sides by looking to turnover ball and make them really earn points.”

While there will be a greater focus on their defence the Rebels will still play with an attacking mindset.

“There is still going to be some of that razzle dazzle, but we are going to earn that off the back of our hard work,” English said.

“We’re not going to be throwing 50-50’s all the time.”

“We will be a hard working team.”

“Still expect it (razzle dazzle), but I think you’ll see the best of both worlds.”

The Rebels have steadily improved with each season but their record of won five and lost eleven last season shows they have some way to to.

Coach McGahan says that an increase in stats on the defensive side should translate into more wins for the Rebels in 2014.

“It’s certainly an area we have identified that there is scope for improvement,” he said.

“We feel if we can get good improvement there, we are going to turn a lot of those close defeats into victories.”

The Rebels will get a chance to test their new defensive skills when they play the Waratahs in their first Super Rugby warm up in Albury on Saturday.

“We’ve got the players to attack and defence is a mindset,” English said.

“So we need to want to work for each other.”

“It’s more of a mateship thing and hopefully the results will come.”

The Rebels open their Super Rugby season against the Cheetahs at AAMI Park in Melbourne on the 28th of February as they have a bye in Round Two and only the South African teams play in Round One.

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