JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Rebels are ready for a ruckus

Date

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.''

With AGENCIES

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Report Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs RSA 01:00Stadio Plebiscito
SCO vs TGA 01:30Rugby Park
IRE vs AUS 03:30Lansdowne Road
WAL vs NZL 04:30MilS
ENG vs SAM 06:00Twic
FRA vs ARG 07:00StdF
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
 
Featured advertisers