We love the story of the underdog, who against all odds, perseveres against great adversity to rise to the fore, so we take great pleasure in reporting on the exploits of Dave Wessels, the coach of the Super Rugby Rebels.
Wessels took the coaching job with the Western Force, only to find himself without a rug to stand on when Rugby Australia pulled the plug on the Force after every effort to make the team viable, including writing off millions of dollars of debt, was unsuccessful in keeping the Australian Conference at a strength of five sides.
Installing Wessels at the Force seemed like an austerity measure to some, as he is a relative unknown outside the inner circles of the game.
He landed the gig on the strength of an impressive interview with RA and he was known to many Force players for the good work he did as Michael Foley’s assistant.
Wessels produced immediate dividends for the Force in their last year in the competition, leading them to second in the conference when it was widely acknowledged that the players made available to him were far from the most proficient.
He achieved that feat while discussions about the future of the Force had many planning escape routes.
Wessels seemed to be the choice for the spooner Rebels when Tony McGahan stepped down and Wessels has performed an Easter miracle by moving the Rebels from the bottom to the top in the overall standings of the 2018 Super Rugby League standings, with six rounds in the books.
Former Springboks five-eighth Peter Grant is familiar with Wessels from his stint with the Western Force.
Grant told reporters, “I’ve got to give him a lot of credit for that because I don’t think many people would have predicted that. He’s a deep thinker and he loves the game of rugby.”
Many former players for the Force followed Wessels to the Rebels and thus far, they seem like the best team in the competition.
The true indication will come Friday, when the Rebels, owners of a 4 – 1 record, face a game against the New Zealand Conference Hurricanes at AAMI Park.