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'They haven't started well': Rebels detail plan to beat Highlanders

By AAP
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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Looking to finish their inconsistent Super Rugby Pacific season on a high, Melbourne coach Kevin Foote says his team can take a lot from the Waratahs of 2022.

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Winless last year, the Waratahs will head into next week’s finals as one of the form teams while the Rebels are lamenting another finals miss.

Their four-loss horror start to the season proved too big a margin to peg back, leaving them outside the top eight.

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The Rebels host the Highlanders in the final round at AAMI Park on Sunday and are looking to inflict the same damage as the Waratahs, who snared a rousing 32-20 win over the men from Dunedin last round.

“We’ve spoken about the Waratahs win and done our analysis,” Foote said of the Highlanders.

“We know obviously that there’s an opportunity for us to start well against them, as they haven’t started well.

“We also know they’re the number one kicking team in the competition so shoring up our back-field and looking for opportunities around that, we’ve definitely had a look at them.”

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Foote also wants to see his team play for each other, as the Waratahs have done this season to bank eight wins.

“I think the Waratahs are playing with an amazing spirit for each other at the moment and that’s what stands out for me more than anything.

“And that’s probably something that I really want to make sure we come out and do.

“It’s a big work-on for us and that’s keep living our values and the Waratahs are living up to their’s and that’s pulling them through in these big games.”

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While the Highlanders hold a seven to three win-loss record, the Rebels have won two of their last three clashes and beat them on their last trip to Melbourne in 2019.

“Even when we’ve played them in Dunedin we’ve had success so it’s always a good game,” Foote said.

“I think the two teams play a similar brand.”

While Melbourne are out of the title race Foote hoped to see some of his players rewarded with Australia A selection, with the latter to play a three-game series in Fiji in July.

Halfback James Tuttle, who this week signed a two-year contract extension, is one in the mix.

“We’re hoping we can get quite a few guys into Australia A so they get an opportunity and they can start to build confidence because obviously this year we haven’t got the results that we wanted,” Foote said.

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