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Moana Pasifika are taking the positives out of their fourth COVID-forced Super Rugby Pacific match postponement, saying they're bristling with energy ahead of Saturday's clash with Melbourne.
The competition newcomers were left sitting in the stands of AAMI Park during Super Round last weekend after Western Force were unable to play due to COVID-19 cases.
It was the fourth postponement for Moana Pasifika, leading to coach Aaron Mauger to call for competition bosses to follow the lead of UK counterparts and make teams forfeit if they're unable to field a team due to COVID-19.
Due to the backlog, the New Zealand-based club has already had to play their last six matches in a 23-day period and they are reportedly considering pushing for the Force to give up their points due to the tight scheduling of the competition.
On Thursday, Mauger said it wasn't his call to make.
"We're just really focused on on this game against the Rebels and we really want to set ourselves up to be in a good position to attack the second half of the competition," he said.
"I know we won't be playing any make-up games the next few weeks."
Mauger said the enforced weekend off had an upside ahead of their return to AAMI Park where they will gun for their second win of the season.
"We have had an opportunity to freshen up and spend some time together socially as a team," the former All Blacks centre said.
"I certainly noticed the energy of the guys coming into the start of this week for a big game against the Rebels - it was a lot higher than what would normally be.
"We just had to look at the positives and really turn our attention to this game against the Rebels, which is going to be another big challenge."
In a boost for the visitors captain Sekope Kepu returns from a collarbone injury.
Fellow ex-Wallaby Christian Lealiifano will be at five-eighth.
Melbourne, who also have two wins to sit ninth, welcome the return of giant prop Pone Fa'amausili, who has been sidelined through the season with a calf injury.
Mauger said that while the Rebels suffered a 42-17 loss to the Crusaders in Super Round, they showed their grit to only trail by four at halftime.
"We went to watch the Rebels play last week live and they did a lot of things really well," he said.
"They had the Crusaders under a lot of pressure at times, especially with their big pack ... using the physicality to get their team on the front foot.
"The other thing I was impressed with was their scramble (defence) - they're a team that plays for each other so we know it's going to be tough."