One of the last sides to return to Super Rugby training, Melbourne Rebels hope to leap ahead of their rivals by resuming contact work early this week.
The Waratahs and Brumbies have been back in action for the past week as Australian teams build toward an early July reboot with a domestic competition.
Rugby Australia is aiming for a July 4 return for a 10-12 week tournament that would feature all four Australian clubs, and possibly the Western Force and Japan’s Sunwolves.
The Rebels players headed back to Melbourne this weekend, including skipper Dane Haylett-Petty, who has been bunkered down with his family in Perth.
Like the other Super Rugby teams, including the Reds who also get underway on Monday, Melbourne will initially train in small groups with no contact.
But Rebels coach Dave Wessels said they were hopeful that could change by mid-week with approval from the Victorian government.
The other Super Rugby sides aren’t expected to be given the green light for contact for another week.
“We’re limited to small group training based on the Return to Play protocols that Rugby Australia have established,” said Wessels.
“Victoria was probably a little bit slower than some of the other states in confirming that we’d be able to go back but now they’ve been really proactive and jumped ahead one or two steps.
“We’re hoping that early this week we will get permission for contact in controlled environments.”
That would be in line with NRL club Melbourne Storm, who are training next door at AAMI Park.
With perimeter fencing set up around their training ground, the Rebels will start with fitness testing and skill work.
Unable to share gym facilities with Collingwood, they are using a makeshift gym set up in the car park.
“If we could get a little more freedom at the back end of the week that would be fantastic,” Wessels said.
The coach said he hadn’t been briefed on exactly what the fixture list would look like and if they would be able to play home games at AAMI Park.
Like Brumbies coach Dan McKellar, Wessels said he hoped that any domestic competition included finals.
“We’ve just got to prepare as best we can as we know we will be playing some form of rugby so we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go for that,” Wessels said.
“It doesn’t really change our preparations at this stage.”
– Melissa Woods
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