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Rebels stand-in captain leaning on housemate to emulate Melbourne Storm's success

By AAP
(Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Melbourne Rebels flanker Brad Wilkin only has to walk down the hall if he wants any leadership advice, with his housemate Storm NRL skipper Christian Welch.

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Wilkin will head the Rebels on the field this Super Rugby Pacific season while the club’s newly named captain Rob Leota recovers from a ruptured Achilles that’s expected to sideline him until May.

It’s another reward for the 27-year-old Wilkin, who was also part of the Australia A side last year.

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The Storm are still to confirm their 2023 leadership group but Welch was co-captain last year, although he too spent all but one game in the stands after also suffering an Achilles injury.

While the Rebels are still hunting a maiden finals berth, the Storm have had sustained success and have only missed the NRL play-offs three times in 25 years, with the last time being back in 2010 when they were stripped of points for salary cap cheating.

Great mates since their Queensland days before they both shifted south, Wilkin said he could turn to Welch if he wanted any advice.

“The Storm have had a lot of awesome success; they have great standards at club and their senior players lead through their performances and that’s probably one thing that I’ve noticed,” Wilkin said on Tuesday.

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“It’s an emphasis on those guys, their senior players, their leaders, guys like Christian are going to lead through being the best players on the field so that’s something that I’m trying to emulate.

“My leadership style is around my actions and behaviours and I’ve had to try and adapt and lead more vocally.

“I definitely take a lot from all kinds of different captains that I’ve had in the past and living with a captain of the Melbourne Storm, I’m always trying to pick his brain.”

On the back of a shocking injury toll, the Rebels had to play catch-up all of last season after getting off to a horror start with five straight losses.

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They are intent on opening the season with a win against the Western Force in Perth on Saturday night when they will come up against their 2022 skipper Michael Wells.

Wilkin said his side felt much better prepared than recent seasons.

“I feel like this pre-season, we’ve had the most stability that we’ve had in our environment in the last three years,” he said.

“We’ve missed finals by one game here and there and you know, quite frankly, we want to make finals and push on so that’s been a common theme that was spoken about.

“Going over to Perth and getting a win will really kick off the season well and give us some momentum.”

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