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Melbourne Rebels' sports psychologist helping block out the noise

The Rebels run out during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, on February 23, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Melbourne’s Carter Gordon isn’t interested in a personal duel with Western Force No.10 Ben Donaldson, the player who usurped him in the Wallabies World Cup line-up last year.


The Rebels were disappointing in a 30-3 Super Rugby Pacific opening-round loss to the ACT Brumbies and are out to make amends against the Western Force.

The Perth side were also outplayed by the Hurricanes 44-14 in their round-one outing

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The teams meet on Friday night as part of Super Round which features all 12 teams playing at AAMI Park over the weekend.

“Obviously there’s a lot to clean up after the first round as we weren’t too happy with how we played,” Gordon told AAP.

“We’ve put some systems into place and we’ve had a good few days of training and we’re looking forward to putting in a good performance this week.”

While new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt will be in the stands at AAMI Park, Gordon said he couldn’t look at facing Donaldson as a personal battle and needed to focus instead on improving his own performance.


“Donno (Donaldson) is a good player and he had a good game last week for the Force, but this week I’ve just been focused on my performance and make sure that I’m getting my things right so I can put the team in the best place,” Gordon said.

“It’s important that you do your job for your team as you have no control how the other team is going to play.

“In my mind if you go out there and do your job and you control the team properly you have a good game.”

Gordon said the players were continuing to work with AFL flag-winning sports psychologist Andrew Waterson as they look to stop outside noise affecting their on-field performance.



Waterson, who was part of the backroom staff that plotted the Melbourne Demons’ title in 2021, was initially brought in to help players including Gordon, fullback Andrew Kellaway and star signing Taniela Tupou with the fallout from the Wallabies’ horror World Cup campaign last year.

But with the financially stricken Rebels seemingly headed towards Super extinction, his skill-set is being used to help players deal with the uncertainty surrounding their playing future.

With Rugby Australia set to make a decision on the club’s future in the coming weeks, Gordon admitted that was on the minds of some players.

“There is noise there and we’d be silly saying it wasn’t on the front of some people’s minds,” the 24-year-old said.

“But we’re trying to come together as much as we can as a team and put the team first and focus on the games and training.”

Gordon said he was starting to see how sports psychology could help with managing his mind-set and improving his game.

“I definitely haven’t in the past, but I’m slowly getting into that now and I think it’s a part of my game and a part of my life I can get better at so yeah, definitely using him (Waterson) more,” he said.

“Not only myself but the whole team is.”



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Poorfour 11 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

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