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Brumbies bracing for torrid clash with wounded Rebels

3 minute read

The Brumbies are expecting the Rebels, with their future uncertain beyond 2024, to come out firing in the opening Super Rugby Pacific derby of the season.

TANIELA TUPOU. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

The Brumbies are bracing for a torrid encounter - physically and emotionally - when the ambitious ACT franchise open their 2024 Super Rugby Pacific campaign against the beefed-up but wounded Melbourne Rebels.

The cash-strapped Rebels enter the season seemingly dead men walking, their future beyond the competition looking dire after shedding staff and handing over control to administrators.

The Brumbies, though, suspect the turmoil combined with a series of big signings, including monster forwards Taniela Tupou and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, will only make for a more dangerous Rebels side at home at AAMI Park on Friday night.

"We're really excited to go down there to Melbourne to take on a pretty good Rebels team," veteran Brumbies and Wallabies prop James Slipper said on Wednesday.

"They're going to be full of emotion and pretty proud to go out there and to put in a good performance - and we're no different.

"It's going to be tough. They're always dangerous, but they have recruited well.

"Some big players have come into the club and that's only going to bolster their team and they're probably going to expect a few more wins off the back of those players so it will be interesting to see how we go this weekend."

Tupou, Australia's most destructive prop and weighing in at more than 135kg, has joined the Rebels after his motivation waned at the Queensland Reds.

Salakaia-Loto, hitting the scales at 123kg, further bolsters the Melbourne pack following a stint in the English premiership with Northampton, after also leaving the Reds.

"It is a sizeable pack," Slipper said.

"I haven't seen the team yet but I just going off what I'm assuming is going to be picked, it's going to be a lot of weight up front, in particular on the tighthead side.

"Luke's looking pretty heavy as well so it's going to be tough."

After bowing out in the semi-finals for the past two years, the Brumbies are making no secret of their desire to win a first Super Rugby full title since 2004.

"Like any team, we want to win the comp. I don't think it's too far-fetched to come out and say that," Slipper said.

A new era, I guess, in Australian rugby and it'd be great to see the Aussie teams do really well this year.

"Looking across the board, there's a lot of depth there in most Super Rugby teams now.

"We all know the Kiwis are going to be strong and then the two teams outside New Zealand and Australia (Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua) are going to be strong as well.

"So that sets up for a good competition."

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