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Rebels warn - Crusaders 2012 scalp is old news

Getty Images and James Mortimer     29 Apr 2013     Getty Images

That was the message from Rebels Head Coach Damien Hill as the Rebels assembled for their Captain's Run at AMI Stadium in Christchurch yesterday afternoon.

On their first trip to the quake-ravaged city, the Rebels seemed buoyed and focused. While many of the current squad featured in the most famous of the club's victories last time they played the Crusaders, the team is well aware of the challenge which they are facing and are looking forward as opposed to reminiscing on past success.

"Last season against them was a memorable win for the whole Club, but you can't dwell on those sorts of things - you need to build on them," Hill said.

"We are expecting a very tough game against the Crusaders in their home. However our preparation hasn't changed, the boys are really enthusiastic and looking forward to the challenge today."

The Rebels have had to wait a fortnight for the chance to try and erase the memories of their last-gasp defeat against the Kings, but Hill said that the Club have taken the bye week within their stride.

"We have found the positives in that extra week off. There were a few niggles that have been addressed, and we have been able to give them extra time to work on some skills. The preparation for today's game has been really good."

Tom English comes into the starting lineup for the first time, replacing the injured Richard Kingi on the wing, and Hill is excited that the youngster has been able to come back from a horrific run of injuries that included a ruptured medial ligament suffered whilst playing Shute Shield last year.

"It's one of the really exciting things, Tom coming in and also Jarrod Saffy's first start of the year. Both have trained really well, and for Tom to come back from a serious injury is a really good reflection on the quality of the kid to push through, do the rehab and earn himself a spot in the starting XV."

Scrumhalf Nick Phipps is also looking forward to seeing what impact the popular English can have from the outset.

"Tommy is one of the favourites in the squad; he is a great bloke and has worked so hard to get the chance," Phipps said. "We can't wait to see him have a crack, and we know he can grab the opportunity with both hands."

Phipps was Man of the Match against the Crusaders in 2012, and whilst not dwelling on the achievement he believes it could well be the catalyst for a surprise victory today.

"It was definitely the best performance as a team that I have ever been a part of. I enjoyed the last ten minutes when we were swarming all over them, and having a real crack for each other. That's still the benchmark for us as the best performance for the club. It's very exciting to be here at their new ground, and it’s going to be a great battle for us, but we can’t wait."

Phipps will have a real tussle on his hands in the halves as he comes up against first the in-form Willi Heinz, and then 2011 World Cup winning scrumhalf Andy Ellis off the bench later in the game.

"Both of them are fiery little characters who like to get under the skin of the forwards in the opposition half. They have a lot of really good skills, they kick and pass so well and do so much for their team to lead them around the park. If we are going to win, we will need to make sure we shut them both down well."