The Melbourne Rebels are excited to today announce Ed Craig, Rhys Van Nek and Brisbane brothers, Carter and Mason Gordon, as the Rebels’ latest signings for the upcoming 2021 Super Rugby AU season.
All four players joined the Rebels extended playing group for the beginning of pre-season training earlier today, in what marked their first day down at the Stockade.
Craig experienced a remarkable 2020, beginning this year as a teacher at Sydney’s Barker College, before making a surprise Super Rugby debut for the Queensland Reds in Round 5 of the former Super Rugby competition, against the Japanese Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium.
The popular try-scoring hooker enjoyed a strong domestic season playing alongside fellow Melbourne Rebel, Lachie Anderson, for his local Shute Shield side, Eastwood. Craig played a crucial role in his side reaching the Shute Shield Grand Final for the first time since 2015, scoring seven tries in an impressive 2020 campaign.
Speaking ahead of his first Super Rugby training camp, Craig says signing with the Rebels is a “dream come true.”
“I’m absolutely stoked to be part of this team – it’s been a lifelong dream to be a full-time rugby player and now to finally great a crack at Super Rugby, it’s an unreal feeling,” said Craig.
“I know a few blokes who have gone to Melbourne and had an awesome time at the club and in the city, so the decision to come was an easy one to make.”
Like Craig, Van Nek arrives in Melbourne in eye-catching form, after the front rower led his East Tigers to a memorable Hospital Challenge premiership win in Queensland’s Premier First Grade competition, claiming the prestigious Tony Shaw Medal for the best player on the ground.
The former St. George Queensland Reds Academy member carries an impressive junior background, having represented the Queensland Schoolboys and Brisbane City Under-19’s in 2017 and 2018, before winning selection in the Australian Under-20’s side in 2019, joining current Melbourne Rebels lock and Wallabies squad member, Trevor Hosea. Van Nek says he’s thrilled to be joining the Rebels at such an exciting time for the club.
“I'm super excited to be signing with the Rebels and really keen to get in and start preseason with the boys.
For me this is a massive learning opportunity, so I'm just going to take it all in and embrace it,” said Van Nek.
Joining Van Nek will be Queensland brothers, Mason and Carter Gordon.
At just nineteen-years-old, Carter is regarded as one of the most exciting playmakers in the country and comes to Melbourne having gained professional experience as a member of the Queensland Reds in 2020.
Gordon was a highly valued member of the Queensland and Australian Schoolboys programs in 2018, while also representing the Australian Under-20’s in the same year.
Gordon says he’s excited for his new opportunity at the Rebels.
“I’m really pumped to get started down here in Melbourne for 2021,” said Gordon.
“Joining the Rebels’ program at such an exciting time in the club’s history will be a great experience and an opportunity I’m really excited about - I can’t wait to rip in.”
Following Carter is younger brother Mason, who produced an impressive final year at the prestigious Brisbane Boys’ College in which he was recognised by Quest Community News as the second-best player in the Top 16 player rankings across the GPS, AIC and Langer Cup schoolboy competitions.
The seventeen-year-old says he’s looking forward to kicking off his professional playing career at a club which he believes will develop him on and off the field.
“I’m very excited to be in a program like the Melbourne Rebels, and I’m really focused on improving as both a player but also as a person off the field,” said Gordon.