Melbourne Rebels ready for the 2012 Super Rugby season

Preparations for the 2012 Super Rugby season are well underway for the RaboDirect Rebels with the playing squad having now returned to training following their Christmas break, with new Head Coach Damien Hill preparing his team for three vital trial matches in February.

All three trial matches will take place in Victoria against New Zealand opposition, the first taking place against the Chiefs at Geelong’s Simonds Stadium on Friday, 3 February from 6.20pm. It will be the first time Geelong has ever hosted a match between two Super Rugby teams, and the first time the Club’s incredible fans will have seen their team in action for over seven months.

Hill says the teams chosen for the Rebels’ trial games were considered carefully.

“It’s always good to trial against New Zealand teams, they do the basics extremely well,” said Hill. “You end up with a really good indication of where you’re at in regards your set piece breakdown and your defence.”

The second trial game of 2012 will take place at the home of the Melbourne Rebels, AAMI Park on Saturday, 11 February from 7.40pm against 2011 Super Rugby semi-finalists, the Auckland Blues. The two-time Super Rugby champions boast a formidable team with current All-Blacks Keven Mealamu, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino and Isaia Toeava in their squad.

The game will be preceded by the Victorian Club Rugby Sevens tournament starting from 3pm, and the VRU/ARU National Registration day. The final trial is also at AAMI Park against 2011 New Zealand conference champions the Crusaders on Saturday, 18 February from 7.40pm.

The Melbourne Rebels are yet to face the Crusaders in a Super Rugby match, but did play against them in a trial match before the 2011 season. Also featuring multiple All-Blacks in their line-up, including Israel Dagg and Zac Guildford, this will be a stern test for Hill’s men before their season opener in Round Two against the NSW Waratahs.

“We have a bit of an ongoing relationship going with the Crusaders,” said Hill. It’s always good to check yourself against historically one of the most consistent performers in the Super Rugby competition. It will give us a really good indication of where we stand going into the season.”