Jason Holland is expecting a starchy response from the Melbourne Rebels and his old Munster coaching colleague Tony McGahan after their opening round shellacking at the hands of the Blues.

The Hurricanes assistant coach knows the Rebels are better than they showed in the 56-18 defeat and is therefore expecting a rugged contest in the capital on Saturday as the defending Super Rugby champs front their home crowd for the first time since Dane Coles lifted the silverware last August.

"I know they are better than that. One thing they won't be lacking is effort and physicality this week," Holland says.

Funnily enough, the Hurricanes gave just 60 minutes of quality in their 83-17 shutout of the Sunwolves, looking odds-on to pass the century until they loosened up, got sloppy, copped a yellow card and the home side discovered that shoring up the defence was a good way of mitigating the points-fest.

Advertisement

"Obviously the Japanese boys were a bit under-prepared in their D, which made things easier for us, but we executed our skills well for 60 minutes," Holland says. "It was a little bit disappointing we didn't kick on, but there were a few things going on."

One of the most pleasing aspects of the Hurricanes' victory was the sight of Julian Savea running freely and looking as fit as he has ever done in February. That will not worry All Blacks' fans, accustomed to seeing the big wing come right in the latter half of the season, but it must be some relief to the Hurricanes' coaching staff, who were thoroughly sick of answering questions about his fitness from May to July in 2016.

"I'm delighted at what Jules did. His work-rate was outstanding. We have a stat at how quickly guys get off the deck and back into the game and he was nailing those. Long may that continue," Holland says.

Savea made 12 carries and four breaks for 127 metres, plus scored a try in Tokyo.

He scored a hat-trick in the 2012 corresponding fixture with the Rebels in Wellington, won 66-24. What odds a repeat on Saturday or indeed a repeat of the feat of having three players record doubles in Tokyo - Michael Fatialofa, Vince Aso and Ardie Savea? Aso, in particular, a late replacement for Cory Jane, wound back the clock to 2013, to when he scored five tries on the flanks for Auckland in the then ITM Cup.

Blade Thomson dislocated his shoulder in Tokyo and was due for a scan today, while Jane is at least a fortnight away, but is training without contact.