Melbourne Rebels lock Geoff Parling believes the international break has given non-selected international players a chance to rest, reload and launch into the team’s final three games of the Super Rugby season. As the Rebels look to next Friday night’s top-of-the-Australian-Conference match against the Waratahs to play off for top spot in the Australian Conference, Parling says players not representing national sides have been given the chance to reinvigorate themselves, yet also get back to basics with training. “We’ve had a bit of downtime, I think it was important to refresh ourselves,” he said. “Truth be told, it can be quite hard for players because you’re not chasing a carrot at the end of the week in terms of a game, but the application on the whole has been really good. “You know, the guys drive each other and the fact that we’re working on our core skills, we appreciate that we’ve been doing something to improve ourselves when we get back into the games.” With nine squad members missing through international duty – including Amanaki injuries to Will Genia (arm) and Jordan Uelese (knee) – Parling said that standards have only increased to ensure that those returning from the Wallabies team feel like they haven’t missed a beat. “We are down on numbers, so that obviously changes with what you can do with training,” he said. “We appreciate that we have three important games coming up, especially with our first one. “We want to make sure that when the lads come back, they’re thinking ‘the lads have been on top of things here’, (so) we need to get involved quickly.” Although the club is missing key pillars of its starting 15, it hasn’t stopped other squad members from preparing for the Rebels crunch game against the Waratahs. Parling says the team knows they will have to overcome a quality opposition as they look to make club history by qualifying for the Super Rugby finals for the first time. “We’ve had a little bit of a look (at the Waratahs) already, especially at their set piece,” he said. “We know that they’re a well-drilled team, (and) that have a solid set of forwards who are very well drilled. “We certainly know that we’ll be up against a very good team.” The Rebels host the Waratahs on next Friday at AAMI Park. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.
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