Dane Haylett-Petty is expected to make his return against the Sunwolves on Friday.
Dane Haylett-Petty is expected to make his return against the Sunwolves on Friday.

Rebels without Genia for Sunwolves showdown

THE Melbourne Rebels are expecting to welcome Wallaby Dane Haylett-Petty back to the fold for Friday's clash against the Sunwolves at AAMI Park.

But Wallabies vice-captain Will Genia is unlikely to feature, despite club captain Tom English said he's a "50/50" chance of lining up.

"He's (Genia) out there (training) now," English said on Tuesday.

"He's just got a few more things to tick off with his running and fitness. By the looks of it he's been kicking well and running well in rehab, so I think it's more of an issue of if and when."

In reality though, Genia is little to chance of returning for the first time since limping off early in his comeback match against the Crusaders on May 4 with a knee injury.

While the Sunwolves cannot be taken lightly - after back-to-back wins over the Reds and Stormers - the Rebels are unlikely to risk recalling him for a game they should win, particularly with a Test series against Ireland around the corner.

Will Genia is a long shot to play the Sunwolves on Friday.
Will Genia is a long shot to play the Sunwolves on Friday.

In his cover, test hopeful Michael Ruru produced his most complete performance of the year against the Brumbies, where he was instrumental in their 27-24 come from behind win in the nation's capital delivering the final pass on two occasions to set up second half tries.

Haylett-Petty's likely return, after a month-long absence due to lingering concussion symptoms, comes at a good time for the Rebels and his test hopes.

While Jack Maddocks has benefited from the exposure at the back in his absence, Haylett-Petty's experience will be important against an improving Sunwolves outfit.

His return will also be a boost for Michael Cheika, who names his Wallabies squad for the three-match series against Ireland on May 30.

"You can see the effect those two guys have on the squad," English said.

Dane Haylett-Petty leaves teh field after copping a head knock.
Dane Haylett-Petty leaves teh field after copping a head knock.

"Both (are) world-class players, both represent their country and they really bring an element of experience to the team.

"But in saying that, we didn't have both those guys two weeks prior when we won so that also gives a lot of confidence in the guys that when you have an injury you've got blokes that can really step up and fill the void."

While their win over the Brumbies stopped the rot, after freefalling from the top of the Super Rugby standings to outside the eight following five straight defeats, English said he was always confident they would return to the winners circle.

He added that a change in mindset proved beneficial, too.

"When you lose nine in a row like last year, four or five is nothing," English quipped.

"I had full confidence in the boys, that we would regain that form from the start of the year.

"It was just looking at ways to get back into that type of form and, for us, that just turned to looking back at the simple things.

"So for us, what do we enjoy about rugby and looking at reasons why we play and just understanding that we are actually a great team. Going back and looking at some of those performances and what we do well, and drawing that focus back on us instead of the opposition."


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