‘Stick with us’: Rebels aim higher for breakout finals

Joanna Guelas |

Injury doubt Rob Leota has called on Rebels fans’ support for their first and last finals.
Injury doubt Rob Leota has called on Rebels fans’ support for their first and last finals.

Melbourne captain Rob Leota has vowed his side will push through the heartbreak of their club’s demise to shine in their first Super Rugby finals appearance.

The Rebels have punched their ticket to a quarter-final date with the Hurricanes, and will cross the Tasman to take on the minor premiers at Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday.

Their maiden finals appearance, in the eighth and last entry berth, comes days after Rugby Australia cut the the cash-strapped club from the 2025 Super Rugby Pacific competition.

RA broke the news on Thursday before players boarded a plane to Fiji, five months after the Rebels entered voluntary administration.

Melbourne then succumbed to their sixth-consecutive defeat in the final round of the regular season, falling 40-19 to the Drua.

Still, Leota is resolute about the Rebels turning around their losing ways, knowing their club will cease to exist as soon as their playoffs run ends.

“Stick with us. We enter finals now so we’ll be looking to do a job and make you guys proud,” Leota told Stan Sport after the loss.

“Coming over to Fiji is obviously a tough trip but we wanted to do a job and unfortunately we had a loss, but I’m just proud with the stuff going on off-field that we showed up.

“We’ll be better next week going into finals.”

Star playmaker Carter Gordon could return for the Rebels after he missed a second successive game due to concussion symptoms, while the club sweats the fitness of Leota.

The No.8 was forced off after 54 minutes following an ugly knock, while he also had to undergo an HIA in the first half.

But Melbourne won’t be the only team entering under an injury cloud.

ACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham faced a prop problem after Blake Schoupp appeared to have dislocated his shoulder in the first two minutes against the Western Force.

The Saturday win was Schoupp’s first match since recovering from an injury to the same shoulder.

He now looks unlikely to appear in his side’s quarter-final next Saturday, as does veteran prop James Slipper, who is battling an upper calf injury.

The Chiefs and the Queensland Reds kick off the quarter-finals on Friday at FMG Stadium Waikato, before the remainder of the quarters on Saturday. 



Chiefs v Reds at FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, 5.05pm


Hurricanes v Melbourne Rebels at Sky Stadium, Wellington, 2.35pm

Blues v Fijian Drua at Eden Park, Auckland, 5.05pm 

ACT Brumbies v Highlanders at GIO Stadium, Canberra, 7.35pm