NRC 2019 squad announcement: Rising load up on local talent

by Rebels Media

This year’s Melbourne Rising squad will have a very strong Victorian flavour, with local Club rugby players to make up more than half of the playing list.

Out of the 45 players who have been named in the Rising’s extended squad, 23 of those listed are current Dewar Shield competitors, flagging an exciting opportunity for Victoria’s best Club talent to gain higher honours.

The top three sides of the competition have been equally represented, with the Melbourne Unicorns, Harlequins and Box Hill all having six players make the squad.

Melbourne University will have two players in Ola Tauelangi and Junior Uelese represent the Rising, while Navarre Haisila (Power House) and JP Sauni (Endeavor Hills) round out the selected Dewar Shield listed players.

Adding to depth of the Rising’s already impressive Club talent will be the return of a further four players who have been plying their trade in interstate competitions, yet possess Dewar Shield experience.

Skilful winger Ahmu Tuimalealiifano (Gordan/ Harlequins), former Rebels Emerging Players young-gun Mahe Vailanu (Gordan/ Harlequins), bustling hooker Moli Sooaemalelagi (Sunnybank/ Northern), talented former Rebels 20’s representative Harry Potter and mobile flanker George Noa (Warringah/Unicorns) will all return to Melbourne to represent the Rising.

Another Victorian who will return to his home state is former Brumbies and Western Force centre Rodney Iona. Originally born in Melbourne, the 27-year-old will return to his place of birth to play rugby for the first time since his early junior playing days in Moorabbin. 

With Melbourne Rebels listed players Trevor Hosea (Harlequins), Fereti Sa’aga (Melbourne Uni/ Northern), Esei Ha’angana (Melbourne Unicorns) and Robert Leota (Melbourne Uni/ Northern) selected, it means 32 players in the Rising’s squad will possess a strong affiliation to the Dewar Shield.

Former Dewar Shield forward, now Melbourne Rising Head Coach Pom Simona, says he’s excited by the vast majority of Victorian Club rugby talent who make up the squad.

“It’s a credit to all the players who have been selected in the squad,” Simona said.

“We felt the direction we wanted to head towards in selecting the squad was choosing the best local talent in Victoria to help supplement the Rebels listed players who’ll be playing in the NRC.

“Having this many local players in the squad is a win for rugby here in Victoria, because it means a host of the Dewar Shield’s best players will be exposed to other players of Super Rugby quality, which can only mean good things for the pathway here in the state. 

“I have full faith that this squad can be competitive and achieve success in this year’s NRC competition.”

Melbourne Rebels General Manager of Professional Rugby and Pathways Nick Ryan believes the NRC will provide a number of players the opportunity to test themselves against high quality opposition and enable Club players to put their hand up for a Super Rugby contract.

“One of the key aims of the NRC is to help bridge the pathway gap for players looking to make that jump from Club competitions to Super Rugby in Australia,” Ryan said.

“Having this amount of Club players in our side will be a wonderful opportunity for not only the players, but also for us, as we’ll be in a great position to see who can mix it and match it against Super Rugby talent.

“It’s also a wonderful opportunity for Rebels contracted players to maintain match-fitness in the Super Rugby offseason, so the whole competition is a real bonus for us.”

The Rising’s NRC campaign kicks off on August 31 at Box Hill Rugby Club, when the side takes on the Canberra Vikings.


Melbourne Rising 2019 NRC squad

First name         Last name         Club

Rodney               Iona                    Moorabbin 

Taylor                  Acheson             Harlequins

Navarre               Haisila                Power House

William                Lewesi                Melbourne Unicorns

Justin                  Marsters             Harlequins

Ahmu                  Tuimalealiifano   Gordon/Harlequins

Angus                 Cottrell                Rebels

Richard               Hardwick             Rebels/Harlequins

Robert                 Leota                  Rebels/Melbourne Uni

Ola                      Tauelangi            Melbourne Uni

Katinali                Tai                       Harlequins   

Pat                       Morrey                UQ

Joseva                 Tamani                Box Hill

Semisi                  Tupou                 Rebels

James                  So'oialo               Melbourne Unicorns

Isaiah                   Leota                   Harlequins

Delai                     Moto                   Box Hill

Reece                   Fuller                  Melbourne Unicorns

Theo                     Strang                 Sydney Uni

Anaru                    Rangi                  Rebels

Mahe                    Vailanu                Gordon/Harlequins

Moli                      Sooaemalelagi     Sunnybank/Northern

Tetera                   Faulkner              Rebels/Moorabbin

Matt                      Gibbon                 Rebels

Fereti                    Sa'aga                 Rebels

Esei                      Haangana            Rebels/Melbourne Unicorns     

Ross                     Haylett-Petty        Rebels

Trevor                   Hosea                  Rebels/Harlequins

Matthew                Philip                   Rebels

Junior                    Uelese                 Melbourne Uni

Vaauli                    Faamausili           Rebels

Angus                    Arundel               Harlequins

Will                        Clift                      Melbourne University

Noa                       Noa                     Melbourne Unicorns

George                  Noa                      Warringah/Unicorns

Nailati                    Ukalele                Box Hill

Michael                  Moloney              Box Hill

Jermaine                Ainsley                Rebels

Lolohea                  Loco                    Box Hill

Lloyd                      Johansson           Harlequins

Boyd                      Killingworth          Warringah

Matai                     Nairavu                Melbourne Unicorns

JP                          Sauni                   Endeavour Hills

Ikapote                  Tupou                   Rebels/Unicorns

Harry                      Potter                  Sydney Uni