The Melbourne Rebels are thrilled to announce the signings of exciting prospects, Jeral Skelton and Ilikena Vudogo, for the upcoming 2021 Super Rugby season. Skelton has committed for two-years until the end of 2022, whilst Vudogo has signed a three-year deal to the end of 2023.
Skelton joined the Rebels in June, prior to the commencement of the 2020 Super Rugby AU season, following the postponement of the Sevens World Series and the Olympic Games in Tokyo, due to the recent COVID-19 global pandemic.
A prestigious talent hailing from a famous rugby family, Skelton began his junior career playing rugby league, before switching to union and later crossing to the Sevens format, where he experienced immediate success.
“Jeral’s made a big impact since joining us from the Sevens program,” said Rebels Head Coach, David Wessels.
“He’s a dynamic forward who’s going to add a lot to us over the next few years and we look forward to seeing him develop in our program.”
Following fourteen weeks on tour with the Rebels this year, Skelton continued to add to his XV’s development, producing a strong domestic campaign with Randwick in Sydney’s premier club rugby competition, the Shute Shield.
As the twenty-one-year-old now shifts his attention to preparations for the 2021 Super Rugby AU season, Skelton says he’s excited to be extending his stay at the Rebels.
“I’m thrilled to be continuing my career here in Melbourne and playing for the Rebels during what is a really exciting time for the club and our supporters,” said Skelton.
“I learnt a lot in my first season with the Rebels and I’m really excited to build on that experience and the playing time I got in the offseason. I really want to hit the ground running this preseason and hopefully make a strong impact in the XV’s in 2021.
“We’ve got a really tight playing group and a great club culture, which made my decision to stay really easy in the end.”
Joining Skelton at the Stockade in 2021, will be excitement machine, Ilikena Vudogo.
Vudogo travels to Melbourne after spending the previous two years as a development player for the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL, having joined the club shortly after being drafted into the Fijian Sevens’ senior squad in 2019.
Prior to his Queensland stint, the twenty-one-year-old speedster starred for Fiji in the 2018 World Rugby Under-20’s tournament in Romania, producing a series of breathtaking performances at outside centre, leading to Vudogo claiming the player of the tournament award.
Vudogo says he’s looking forward to his new opportunity with the Rebels and eager to make a fast start this preseason.
“It’s been a great first week with the Rebels – the boys have been really encouraging and it certainly feels like a strong, connected group.”
“Having come from the Sevens and Rugby League, I’m really excited to grab this new opportunity with both hands and grow as a player and a person, as much as I can every day.”
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about this club and their direction, and I’m really excited to be a part of it in 2021.”