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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

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG -1vs FJI -1 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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