Sekope Kepu on the charge for the Tahs.
Sekope Kepu on the charge for the Tahs.

’Throw punches’: Tahs ready for Rebels brawl

THE Melbourne Rebels may have a heavyweight pack and want to "throw punches" on Sunday, but the Waratahs forwards say they won't take a backward step in the blockbuster clash at Allianz Stadium.

"They probably are bigger than us but the old cliche is 'the bigger they are, the harder they fall' - my Mum taught me that one," NSW lock Tom Staniforth said.

Jeff Horn may not be able to lock down his fight but the Waratahs-Rebels clash on Sunday is shaping as a brawl worth watching, with the dominant Rebels looking to use their size advantage to knock out the Waratahs.

The Melburnians have a monster pack, and even with NSW welcoming back Test forwards Sekope Kepu and Rob Simmons, the hosts will give away over 50 kilograms in pack weight.

But it's not just size. The Rebels take pride in an aggressive defence and South African-style abrasiveness, and unsurprisingly scuffles erupted with the Reds and Brumbies in their last two weeks.

There was even push-and-shove between the Waratahs and the Rebels in their trial match last month in Brookvale Oval.

Bring it on, said Staniforth.

"That's why we play isn't it? We enjoy that confrontational battle and we are looking forward to it," the former Brumbies lock said.

Waratahs lock Tom Staniforth (pictured) is likely to partner Rob Simmons in the second row for the Highlanders clash.
Waratahs lock Tom Staniforth (pictured) is likely to partner Rob Simmons in the second row for the Highlanders clash.

"Obviously they play like that and that's what makes rugby so good, we get to have these contests and these games. We really enjoy them and can't wait to be a part of it. It'll be a good game to come watch on Sunday.

"I guess we just play the game and enjoy it. We want to put on a good show for the crowd and for Sydney and NSW, to come out and enjoy the confrontation."

Rebels coach Dave Wessels said the Melbourne club - who are on top of the Super Rugby ladder - face their "biggest test" so far this year against the Waratahs. They plan to stick with their successful formula.

"The Waratahs have a lot of Australia's best players in that team. We are going to have to play really well," Wessels said.

"They'll probably be disappointed with the way they played overseas so they'll want to come back and make a statement this week. It will have to be a step up for us.

"The conference games are important just because you are winning.

"It is a measuring stick for us to go and play well against the Waratahs. They have some very dangerous players and we think the best way to do that is to throw some punches of our own, just as we have done in the last few weeks. When we have the ball we have caused people problems."