MELBOURNE, AAP - Melbourne Rebels coach Damien Hill knows the honeymoon is over for his Super Rugby side.
No longer the newbies, with the Southern Kings joining the competition in the South African conference, it's time for the Rebels, in their third year, to deliver.
They finished 13th last season — ahead of the Western Force — but are eyeing a first finals appearance.
And success-hungry Melbourne demands it with cross code rivals Melbourne Storm bringing back the NRL title in 2012 to increase the pressure on the Rebels.
"The expectation this year is certainly higher and so it should be," said Damien Hill, in his second year as head coach.
"Changes to the squad have improved the potential of the playing group so the expectations are aligned.
"Everyone's excited about the possibility of what we can achieve."
The Rebels have made sweeping changes to their playing roster with the average age now 23.5 — down from 28.