Storm stars look to inspire Rebels to Super final upset

Melissa Woods |

Christian Welch has reminded the underdog Rebels of Queensland’s unlikely 2020 Origin series win.
Christian Welch has reminded the underdog Rebels of Queensland’s unlikely 2020 Origin series win.

The Rebels have called in two stars from their Melbourne neighbours – Storm guns Christian Welch and Cameron Munster – to deliver a rallying team talk as they approach their first-ever Super Rugby Pacific final.

The eighth-placed Rebels are rated a 27-1 chance by bookmakers of upsetting the ladder-leading Hurricanes in their quarter-final in Wellington on Saturday, but former Storm skipper Welch has urged the side to prove the doubters wrong.

He and Munster used their State of Origin experience, most notably in 2020 when Queensland were described as the “worst-ever Maroons side,” before going on to win the series 2-1.

“We showed a little video of that 2020 Origin series when the commentary was we were the worst side in the 40-year history of the concept,” Welch told AAP.

“We were trying to draw a parallel between being the underdog … no-one is giving them a chance in New Zealand so I just spoke to them about our experience.

“You’re really playing for something bigger than yourself, you’re playing for your state and especially with it possibly being their last game, they’re playing for each of the 200 players who have pulled on the Rebels jersey.”

The Melbourne Rebels go through their drills before their Super finals match against the Hurricanes. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Melbourne will fold at the end of the Super season, given the news by Rugby Australia before their final-round match, and Welch said that should also spur the Rebels on.

“I said to them, ‘Rugby Australia have given up on you guys so go out there and prove them wrong and knock off the No.1 team’,” he said.

“It’s about effort, rolling your sleeves up, and the Hurricanes might have more stars but they can take it to them as they have nothing to lose.

“After the year they had it would be an amazing story.”

Welch has a personal connection to the Rebels, having shared a home with flanker Brad Wilkin for the past five years and with former Wallabies backrower Sean McMahon before that.

With the Rebels being axed, Wilkin will have to leave Melbourne to find a new club.

“It’s sad as we’ve been living together through most of our 20s and we’ve been through a lot.

“We’ve had our major injuries – he’s done three ACLs and I’ve done two ACLs and an Achilles.

“He’s been such a great support for me and I think I’ve been good for him.

“We’ve been playing different sports but it’s been great to have someone to go home to and talk about our struggles and things that are challenging us.

“It’s going to be sad as there’s some really good guys in that Rebels side and really good staff as well who don’t know what they’re going to do.

“I think everyone says, ‘chop the Rebels’, but they forget the human element of it.”