No more excuses for young Melbourne Rebels

STATHI PAXINOS
Last updated 14:48 30/01/2013

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Super Rugby

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The Melbourne Rebels believe they can no longer use the excuse of being a new Super Rugby team for a lack of success - and they go further than that, with Rebels hooker Ged Robinson declaring that playing in the finals is a realistic goal.

''We want to win it. That's our goal and if you go in with anything less than that you're selling yourself short,'' Robinson said. ''We want to make the top six.

''We've had that grace period. We're in now and we've got to prove that we deserve to be here.''

With the Port Elizabeth-based Southern Kings this year replacing the Lions as the fifth South African team, Rebels coach Damien Hill agreed with Robinson's sentiments about the Rebels' place in the competition.

''The Southern Kings are the new team, this is our third year and it's time to step up,'' Hill said.

''There certainly is a good level of confidence but no one is kidding themselves. They know what they are up against in terms of the quality and standard of the competition ... confidence is a really good thing to have and the team's got it but it needs to be backed up with consistent performances.''

Hill said the injection of new energy from the likes of Wallaby Scott Higginbotham as well as young talent, would make the difference to the club's ambitions of improving on its previous finishes of last [2011] and 13th [2012]. He said the benefit of younger bodies was already evident in the more intensive pre-season training.

''There were 13 players over 30 last year. This year we've got four and that does make a difference,'' Hill said. ''The players we've had in the past have done a fantastic job in terms of setting up the club and achieving the wins we did achieve in the first couple of years, but I think the changes we made are appropriate for where the club is now so the injection of youth and enthusiasm has come at the right time.''

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- The Age

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