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Rebels are ready for a ruckus


Stathi Paxinos

Tom Chamberlain.

Tom Chamberlain. Photo: Getty Images

THERE are few harder places to be than scavenging at the bottom of a ruck against hard-nosed New Zealanders who are among the best exponents at the breakdown.

But that is what Tom Chamberlain faces tonight when the Melbourne Rebels play the Highlanders in Invercargill.

And he knows only too well the challenge he faces, being a New Zealander and having spent the off-season playing in his homeland.

Chamberlain, who has been a regular at open-side flanker this season after receiving limited opportunities behind Michael Lipman last year, believes New Zealand teams provided the biggest challenge at the breakdown. However, he believes the Rebels can hold their own against the Highlanders tonight.

The Rebels and the Highlanders both head into their Super Rugby clash with new five-eighths - but there the similarity ends.

While the injury-ravaged Highlanders have been forced to call on Chris Noakes, who has played only one Super match, the Rebels have James O'Connor as their new No. 10. With a hamstring complaint ruling out regular five-eighth Danny Cipriani, O'Connor brings Test experience as well 41 Super appearances into the match at Invercargill's Rugby Park.

Veteran Mark Gerrard said it would be tough for 26-year-old Noakes, who has replaced luckless All Black Colin Slade, who broke his leg against the Brumbies last round. Noakes played his first Super game in the Highlanders' season-opening win over the Chiefs but has battled an ankle injury since.

''As a rookie playmaker it will be very difficult with him getting used to the level of Super Rugby, while James has played at international level at 10 and has played there this season as well for us,'' Gerrard said.

The Highlanders have also lost hooker Andrew Hore to a calf injury, while Test lock Jarrad Hoeata is back from a pectoral muscle problem, as is flanker Adam Thomson (neck).

Despite the changes to the Highlanders' line-up, Gerrard said the Rebels couldn't afford to take them lightly. ''If you look at those players coming back it's still a very strong outfit and they have been close to the benchmark this year in Super Rugby,'' he said. ''We know how hard they are to play, especially in Invercargill.''

Highlanders hooker Jason Rutledge is wary of the threat posed by the Rebels.

The teams approach the game with contrasting mindsets, the Highlanders rocked by their first loss of the campaign and a growing injury toll and the Rebels buoyed by their first win of the season.

The Rebels beat the Force 30-29 in Melbourne last weekend and there has been additional good news this week with star backs O'Connor (hamstring) and Kurtley Beale (calf) back in the starting line-up.

''They're a talented bunch,'' Rutledge said. ''They're one of those teams that can rip you to pieces in a short time if you lose concentration. They're very hard to stop if they get a bit of confidence and get on a roll.''


HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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