Rebels look to halves for Super effort
Key man ... Kurtley Beale of the Rebels. Photo: Getty Images
Melbourne Rebels coach Damien Hill expects his star halves Kurtley Beale and Nick Phipps to rise to the challenge of facing the benchmark Brumbies in their Super Rugby clash on Friday night.
Melbourne know they will need to lift significantly to topple the Australian division favourites at AAMI Park.
The Rebels opened their season with a 30-23 win over the Western Force but the Brumbies, who thumped the Reds, are a much tougher proposition.
The battle between fiesty No.9's Phipps and Nic White will be key, with the pair vying to be back-up to Test halfback Will Genia.
White got first crack in 2012, but when he was sidelined with a shoulder injury Phipps made the most of his chance and finished the year as first-choice and replaced the injured Genia.
"He probably outplayed his opposition against the Reds and put them on the front foot a lot," Hill said of White.
"He's a busy player and Nick Phipps will love that challenge this week."
Beale was solid against the Force but Hill will be looking for the Wallabies ace to really stamp his authority on the game up against the classy Matt Toomua.
Phipps and Beale have started the last seven Tests together and now have plenty of experience to call on.
"They had a solid start but there's definitely a lot more in both of those two," Hill said.
"I am expecting a higher standard of those two, and the whole team this week."
The Rebels see the rise of the Brumbies as a lead to follow.
They were 13th in the competition in 2011 and just missed the finals last year with new coach Jake White at the helm.
"They've bounced back exceptionally well," Hill said.
"It does show what you can do if you get the fundamentals right.
Beale is part of a Rebels backline that has the strike-power to match the Canberra line-up, but the forwards battle will decide whether he and the likes of speedsters James O'Connor and Richard Kingi get the opportunities they crave.
"They are probably the benchmark," Beale said.
"Last year they started off very well playing a very unique, simple game plan and it worked for them.
"We've done our homework and we know we've got to shut down some players."
Beale mentioned the likes of the Brumbies backrow, led by Test flanker David Pocock and skipper Ben Mowen, while fullback Jesse Mogg, who scored two tries against Queensland, was another to impress.
The Rebels will have to continue their winning ways to keep Beale, who has been linked with his old team NSW.
Beale said he will meet with his manager next week but for now wanted to focus on the game.
"My role within the team at the moment is pretty important," Beale said.
"I've got a leadership role trying to direct the boys around the park and my focus is purely on rugby at the moment."