The Melbourne Rebels prop Sam Talakai has said they plan to "fire a shot" in round nine's crucial clash with the Crusaders.

The Rebels host the defending champions on Friday needing a victory to stay in touch with the finals-bound top eight.

Their preparation has been far from ideal, with playmaker Carter Gordon and skipper Brad Wilkin amongst several missing until their captain's run on Thursday due to a three-day Wallabies camp on the Gold Coast. 

Talakai said the squad was still able to focus on some key elements such as defence, which went missing in the second half of their heavy round-seven loss to the Blues.

"Today it was a big focus on defence," Talakai said on Wednesday. 

"We need to get back to winning collisions and slowing the ball down so we can get up off the line are a few key areas for us for this game.

"If we do give the Crusaders some quick ball we will be struggling."

Talakai felt an upset win over the fourth-placed Crusaders would set the Rebels up for a big back-end of the season, with six rounds remaining before the playoffs.

"Every game from now is really crucial for us and it starts with this one," said the 31-year-old. 

"We've got to turn up to this game and we've got to fire a shot.

"As well as defence, in attack it's just sticking to being fearless and trusting our skill and ability where we can."

Talakai made a sole Wallabies appearance in the Test against Wales on last year's spring tour but missed out on this week's training squad.

He said coach Eddie Jones had given him clear feedback about what he could do to boost his World Cup hopes.

"Eddie is short, sharp and clear which is good, I like direct feedback," Talakai said.

"He's given me one thing to work on and that's something that I'm going to push myself to work on these next seven weeks.

"It's all on the individual and how you respond to that ... when you do miss out on those selections, there is a bit of a fire that burns within."

In some welcome news, Melbourne could soon get Matt Philip back from his ACL injury, with the Test lock ramping up his training.