Super Rugby round 11
Rebels expect big things from Delve
April 27, 2013
The Melbourne Rebels have sorely missed Gareth Delve's composure © Getty Images
Finally injury-free, Melbourne Rebels skipper Gareth Delve's return to Super Rugby couldn't have come at a better time.
The Rebels face a giant task taking on perennial heavyweights the Crusaders in Christchurch on Sunday in a key game for both teams.
The slow-starting Crusaders find themselves with four losses and four wins for the season. The Rebels have also been disappointing, with only two victories.
Welshman Delve has missed their past three games with a variety of injuries which have contributed to uncharacteristically poor form. They missed his cool presence in their loss to the Southern Kings, which came after the final siren.
He has been named on the bench for the Crusaders match and Rebels coach Damien Hill is expecting the rampant Delve of old.
"Gareth has trained really well and I expect him to make a huge impact off the bench," Hill said from Christchurch. "He'll be fighting hard to secure a starting position and I'm sure we'll all see a very good performance."
Hill also brought in Jarrod Saffy at blindside flanker for his first start of the season, with the Rebels desperate to match the Crusaders for speed and strength at the breakdown.
They also see the Crusaders set piece as one of the best in the competition.
"The games Jarrod's had for us lately coming off the bench; what's caught our eye has been his work-rate - his tackles, his hit-ups and metres gained. He really brings a physicality to that position and we're excited to see what he brings on Sunday."
Melbourne outplayed the Crusaders for a shock 28-19 victory at AAMI Park last season in the most comprehensive performance of their short history. With a raft of new faces in his line-up, Hill said they hadn't revisited the win.
The Crusaders have named All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter on the bench in his return from paternity leave and then a hamstring injury.
"They've got a very strong bench with two halves like Andy Ellis and Carter on the pines," Hill said. "They'll be a very strong injection whenever they choose to do it."