Rebels conclude pre-season in Geelong
City of Greater Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons can't wait for Rugby at Simonds Stadium
The RaboDirect Rebels playing squad completed their final training session before their Christmas break in 40 degree temperatures yesterday, an apt way to conclude what has been a most arduous pre-season.
The entire squad jumped on buses at Visy Park early on Thursday morning and headed down to Geelong to train on Simonds Stadium for the first time this pre-season. They also used the Kardinia Aquatic Centre, and enjoyed lunch and a swim at Torquay Beach.
Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Tony McGahan has now overseen his first pre-season at the Club, and is pleased with how the squad have responded to the fresh approach he and his coaching staff have brought into the program.
"The players have worked very hard, and deserve their break," McGahan says. "We have worked very hard on our defence, our breakdown work and also our fitness as three key areas of focus, and have seen some fantastic results.
"In the gym, we have seen players putting in the hard yards to set personal records and also bring their skin folds down to great levels. Paul Alo-Emile deserves special mention for reducing his skin folds by over 30 millimetres, despite having a shortened pre-season as he played ITM Cup in New Zealand from August to October.
"Luke Burgess is one of the most experienced players at the Club, having returned from France in an attempt to return to the Wallabies, and he has improved his box squat by more than 40kg over pre-season. Examples like Paul and Luke are just a very small example of the levels of improvement made, with the likes of Laurie Weeks, Colby Fainga'a and Cadeyrn Neville amongst others who have truly excelled. Max Lahiff has also smashed our Club record on the bench press, lifting 190kg!
"It is a true credit to our Strength & Conditioning staff, led by Bryce Cavanagh and Zane Leonard, that the squad are in top condition. The entire squad have earned a short break, but we expect them to return in the same or better condition than when they left."
McGahan is also impressed with the manner in which the Club is run, and believes that the ambitious attitude of all staff will help the Club in its quest for success moving forward.
"The Membership department and marketing team are doing such a good job to try and make sure we have massive crowds cheering the boys on in 2014," he said. "I can't thank them enough for their hard work, and I know that the players are most appreciative as well."
The Rebels will again return to Geelong to host a pre-season trial match against the Hurricanes on Saturday 8th February, and CEO Rob Clarke couldn't be happier about a return down the highway.
"We've made a commitment to help promote and grow the game of Rugby across all of Victoria, and by again taking the Rebels to Geelong we will provide another opportunity for people from different parts of the state to come and watch Rugby at its highest level," Clarke said.
"We will be looking to utilise the fantastic facilities, including the new lights of Simonds Stadium, as we move forward as a Club and I encourage all Rebels Members to jump in the car, or on the train, and get down to the game.
"We also know that Geelong is full of some of the country's most passionate sports fans, and it will be a great opportunity for them to get out and watch top-class Rugby. With the introduction of the new National Rugby Championship in 2014, we would potentially love to bring more fixtures to Geelong, so this is hopefully just the start of a regular relationship."
City of Greater Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons said the Melbourne Rebels Rugby squad enjoyed their training session at Simonds Stadium today.
"The Rebels said they loved our ground at Simonds Stadium; they were impressed by our Rugby pitch and our state of the art facility," said Mayor Lyons.
"I know the team are looking forward to coming back again in February to play the Hurricanes and I can't wait for Geelong to get behind this international event.
"Simonds Stadium and Kardinia Aquatic Centre are just two examples of the City of Greater Geelong's outstanding sporting facilities. The quality of our sports venues has enabled us to attract world class events and to provide high quality facilities to our region.
"I want the whole community to get behind this huge Rugby match to hit Geelong in February; it will be a great chance to see some of the world's best Rugby players battle it out right here at home."