RaboDirect Rebels inaugural squad member Nic Henderson says that the side’s scrum must improve in 2013 for the Rebels to finish higher on the table, and thinks that it is capable of doing just that. The former Wallaby prop doesn’t bother sugar-coating how the scrum performed in 2012.
“We had a pretty average scrum last year; we were bottom of the ladder throughout the competition if you look into the stats,” said Henderson.
“There is a lot of improvement ahead of us in that area and a lot of hard work.
“We have nine weeks now until Christmas, then three weeks after Christmas before the games start. The scrum is an eight-man unit, but the guys in the front row really need to lead that improvement and hard work.
“I’m confident we can make big strides in that area.”
Henderson is heading towards the twilight of his career, but is certainly not struggling for motivation to perform in 2013.
“Eddie (Aholelei) and Paul (Alo-Emile) are so hungry for a starting spot, so that really puts the pressure on me and Laurie (Weeks),” said Henderson.
“For a bloke who, let’s face it, is at the back end of his career, it is great motivation to perform and go out on a high.
“It’s also so important to have depth in the front row as it is such a long season, especially with The British & Irish Lions Tour being thrown in there as well.”
Henderson’s fantastic career is indeed winding down, and the big prop expects 2013 to most likely be his last in Super Rugby.
“The Rebels will be looking for younger guys to fill those positions and build on the culture us old timers have left behind. But it is important just to live in season 2013 right now, and not focus too far beyond that,” said Henderson.
“I moved to Melbourne with the motivation to call this city home, and having now been here for two years I can’t think of a better place to live. I have bought a house here and I will be settling here post-rugby, whether I go away for a year or two overseas or not. This is where I want to be. Melbourne is home.”
Henderson’s love of Melbourne isn’t limited to just the city; he speaks genuinely and glowingly in his appraisal of the Rebels support.
“We have just absolutely amazing fans at the Rebels, and we are working so hard to carve out our own place in the market, like the AFL clubs have obviously done and the Melbourne Storm as well,” said Henderson.
“We want to continue that upward climb as a club.”
In regards to the upward climb, Henderson says that the squad have plenty to do to build upon the first two seasons in Super Rugby for the Rebels.
“The big word is improvement…we want to make 2013 a better year,” said Henderson.
“We have lost a lot of experience, so we don’t necessarily need to aim for Top 6 or set specific targets like that just yet, but getting the young guys blooded and experienced and continuing to grow as a club is vital in season three.”
As for Henderson’s role as a leader?
“I need to step up my leadership if I am being honest,” said Henderson.
“It probably hasn’t been a necessity for me to be a real leader around the club, because we have had such great leaders here already. Stirling Mortlock, Greg Somerville, Mark Gerrard, Julian Huxley; these kinds of guys have taken on a lot of that role in the past, so with all of them now gone I will step up that side of my game in 2013.
“The other great thing is that the club has known that we were going to lose this experience pretty early on, and has blooded young leaders. Guys like Hugh Pyle and Laurie Weeks have stepped in to fill the void already, and the club is focused on a core of young leaders.”
While it is the likes of Pyle, Weeks, Gareth Delve and James O’Connor who will be asked by the club to continue that development of a young leadership core, one thing is for certain; Henderson will play a vital role in the continued growth of young players, especially front rowers, at the Rebels in 2013.
His experience as a prop for the Brumbies, Western Force and Rebels in over 100 Super Rugby games means that the likes of Aholelei and Alo-Emile will be learning from one of the best in the business again in 2013.
Pete Fairbairn is a freelance writer and a big RaboDirect Rebels fan. You can follow him on twitter @skippytbk