Former Brumbies star Mark Gerrard could make an early return for the Rebels when the two sides meet on Friday night. Photo: Getty Images
Melbourne Rebels back-line linchpin Mark Gerrard is set for a surprise return from injury to face the Brumbies in their Super Rugby clash tomorrow night.
It was feared Gerrard had fractured his sternum in a massive tackle in their loss to the Hurricanes but the former Wallaby has put his hand up to play the Australian conference leader at AAMI Park.
It's a relief for the Rebels with five-eighth Kurtley Beale (shoulder), centres Lachlan Mitchell (head) and Lloyd Johansson (finger), and flanker Michael Lipman (head) joining their hefty injury list.
''He trained yesterday and he trained well, so we're very confident he'll be right to play,'' coach Damien Hill said.
''He really is very keen to play and he's got through all the training sessions and he's ready and raring to go.''
Hill said Gerrard had taken his game to a new level this season with the arrival of players such as Beale and O'Connor sharing the leadership.
''He's using his skill set better than last year,'' he said.
''His kicks for touch and place kicking is one of the best in competition.''
When Melbourne hosted the Brumbies early last season the home side was coming off a 43-0 loss to NSW - almost as bad as their 66-24 beating by the Hurricanes.
They broke through for their inaugural win 25-24.
Hill said it would be nice to have a similar rebound but believed the Brumbies were vastly different in 2012.
''You can't compare the two,'' he said. ''The Brumbies outfit - this year is a vastly different outfit to what they were both in personnel and performance.''