New-look Rebels can fill AAMI Park: coach

Vince Rugari
Melbourne coach David Wessels (left) is looking forward to the Rebels hitting their full potential

The Melbourne Rebels can realise their massive Super Rugby potential and fill the empty stands at AAMI Park if they're prepared to work hard enough, coach David Wessels says.

Since their inception in 2011, the Rebels have struggled to find a foothold in what Wessels rates is probably the sporting capital of the world.

Many felt during last year's Super Rugby debate that they should have been the Australian team axed - rather than the Western Force - for that precise reason.

The Rebels have never qualified for the finals and averaged crowds of around 8,000 when they finished rock bottom of the overall ladder with just one win last season.

"That was one of the things that attracted me to the club. There's just a huge amount of potential there," Wessels told AAP.

"They love sport (in Melbourne) and I think they particularly love winning.

"Part of our responsibility as a team is to turn around some of those results and give them something to be excited about.

"It's really just going to come down to how hard we're prepared to work over the next couple of months.

"We don't move from last to first, which is the ultimate goal, without a bit of blood, sweat and tears."

The perfect blueprint for how to succeed in AFL-mad Melbourne is right under their noses, too.

The Rebels share a training field with the NRL's Melbourne Storm, who have carved out their own niche by forging a winning culture under Craig Bellamy that has helped them build a modest but loyal fanbase.

"The intensity with which they train and prepare with is world class," Wessels said.

"They're not winning by accident.

"It's a great model for our boys, to be able to see that day in, day out, for something we're trying to emulate."

Wessels said he was enjoying the challenge of managing a star-studded squad and melding together the existing Rebels with those, like him, who joined from the axed Western Force.

"It feels like a start-up. In many ways it is," he said.

"We've been through a few iterations and made some mistakes but I think now we've got the right people on board to start to mature ourselves."