Melbourne Rebels

Preview: Stormers v. Rebels

Preview: Stormers v. Rebels

For anyone who still has encyclopaedias, open them up to ‘F’ and then look up ‘fait accompli’. In the definition, you might just find reference to this very match. A battered and bruised Melbourne Rebels reach the finish line of their second season, facing a Stormers outfit on top of the South African conference.

To earn a home semi-final, the Stormers need only to register a point against the Victorian franchise, and given the Chiefs’ loss to the Hurricanes, a win will see them finish top of the combined table. The Kaapstad boys have not come through the preliminary stages unscathed, however, having lost Schalk Burger and Nick Koster for the season, with Duane Vermeulen’s return hinging on how far they progress into finals. Brok Harris, however, returns this week from a broken nose. As with all props, his looks are probably the better for it.

The Stormers came out on top in a rough-and-tumble game against the Cheetahs last week in the wet, securing the little green trophy for the second time in as many years.

‘Goodbye’ cards will have flooded Rebel headquarters while the team was in South Africa. This week, fan favourite, media darling, and all-around-nicest-guy-ever, Adam Freier, announced he will join Stirling Mortlock, Al Campbell and Michael Lipman in retirement at the end of the season. Mark Gerrard (Japan), Julian Huxley (France), Tom Chamberlain and Adam Byrnes are also off to greener, probably drier pastures.

The Rebels showed a lot of heart to recover from a disastrous start against the Lions last week, piling on 25 straight points to momentarily claim the lead. Despite being bested by a late Lions try, the Victorians earned their first competition points on foreign soil, and this will give the visitors a much needed lift as they attempt the implausible.



15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (c), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Deon Fourie, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. De Kock Steenkamp, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Steven Kitshoff.

Reserves: 16. Deon Carstens, 17. Brok Harris, 18. Quinn Roux, 19. Jebb Sinclair, 20. Louis Schrueder, 21. Burton Francis, 22. Gerhard van den Heever.

The Stormers insist that they’re taking this game seriously, but playing a hooker at number eight? Come on guys, at least make fun of us behind our backs.


15. Julian Huxley, 14. Mark Gerrard, 13. Mitch Inman, 12. Stirling Mortlock (c), 11. Cooper Vuna/Lachlan Mitchell, 10. James Hilgendorf, 9. Nick Phipps, 8. Gareth Delve, 7. Hugh Perrett, 6. Tim Davidson, 5. Hugh Pyle, 4. Cadeyrn Neville, 3. Jono Owen, 2. Ged Robinson, 1. Rodney Blake.

Reserves: 16. Luke Holmes, 17. Paul Alo-Emile, 18. Al Campbell, 19. Ryan Hodson, 20. Nic Stirzaker, 21. Cooper Vuna/Lachlan Mitchell, 22. Richard Kingi.

One position was not confirmed at time of print, with Damien Hill set to toss a coin as to who out of Lachlan Mitchell and Cooper Vuna will start on the wing. Luke Holmes comes in to the 22 for Freier, who tore his calf against the Lions and has played his last game of professional rugby. Rodney Blake waddles in at loosehead for Nic Henderson.


This is game four of the six-match Super Rugby Super Saturday (copyright pending), kicking off at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, on Saturday July 14 at 3pm local, 11pm AEST.

These teams have met once before, with the Stormers spanking the Rebels 40-3 in Round 16 of the 2011 season, at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

The man in the middle for this match is Lourens van der Merwe (RSA), ably assisted by Mark Lawrence (RSA) and Christie du Preez (RSA). Shaun Veldsman (RSA) will be watching SuperSport and yelling at it when instructed.


When most players retire, as disappointed as you might be with the decision, part of you knows it was their time. Despite this, Adam Freier’s announcement this week that he too would be bidding rugby farewell came as a surprise, and saddened me, truth be told.

Yes, he may have been on the wrong side of 21, and yes, the mangy crop of hair from his Brumbies days has been pared back a little, but, of all the injuries and setbacks that he has overcome in his career (detailed in his article linked above, a good read — after you’ve finished on GAGR of course), it was odd to think that one would finally get him.

Nevertheless, I hope Adam is not lost to Victorian rugby, because he is the single nicest guy I have met in my time alongside the Rebels. His natural eloquence, combined with a willingness to make himself available for anyone, fans, media, business partners, opened up the Rebels and rugby union to an incredible amount of Melburnians. That, and I find it safe to say that, without his support and encouragement early on, the Rebel Army would not exist, and the culture built at the Rebels would not be the same.

Thank you for everything, Adam. It’s been an absolute honour having you as a Rebel.


What the hell, it’s been a pleasure writing for you this year, GAGR.

Rebels by 30.

Melbourne Rebels

Stuart Fazakerley is an enigmatic prop/inside centre for the Melbourne Rebels and Wallabies, who holds records for the most tries scored inside both a Super Rugby and Rugby Championship season. Outside of Rugby Challenge on Xbox, Stuart is a general battler who has been spreading the word of the game they play in heaven from all the benches he warms.

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