There was plenty to like about the Rebels in 2015, finishing with their best ever season record in the club’s short history. Eventually placing 10th with seven wins and nine losses, the men from Melbourne had their finals dream cut short during their tour of South Africa. However, they have certainly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.
In the words of NZ rapper Scribe, ‘not many, if any’ lows for the Rebels in 2015. Laurie Weeks’ brain explosion will live long in the memory – all for the wrong reasons – after he rightly served a three-week suspension for striking. Scott Higginbotham’s departure cannot be underestimated. His departure for club rugby in Japan post-World Cup will leave the Rebels with a massive leadership void.
Very hard to pick with several contenders. Jack Debrezceni and Nic Stirzaker formed a superb halves combination while ‘Super Sefa’ Naivalu burst onto the scene with some calling for a Wallabies nod. Higginbotham is also a MVP candidate after he had a stellar year. The loose forward broke the record for most Super Rugby tries by a forward in the history of the competition when he dotted down against the Chiefs in Round 12. Now he sits proudly atop the standings with 32 tries in his Super Rugby career.
The MVP has to be Sean McMahon though, the twenty-year continued his rapid rise to become one of the most dominant backrowers in the land. He led the team in tackles per game (10.5) and tackle busts (40), showing he can do it at both ends of the field.
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Five Rebels have been selected in the Wallabies train-on squad with Paul Alo-Emile, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Jones, Sean McMahon and Toby Smith all fighting for a World Cup spot. Alo-Emile and Higginbotham will be pushing especially hard, seeing as it’s their last chance to represent their country before heading overseas next season. Nic Stirzaker and Jack Debreczeni will return to the NRC where they will hope to once again spearhead Melbourne Rising’s title campaign.
Top points scorer: Mike Harris (123)
Top try scorer: Scott Higginbotham (5)
Most tackles/game: Sean McMahon (10.5)
Most pilfers: Colby Fainga’a (5)