The Melbourne Rebels have added another important piece to their leadership stocks, welcoming back Anaru Rangi.
The popular hooker’s new deal will see Rangi return to Melbourne for at least the next two seasons, with his inclusion strengthening an already formidable front row pack including Wallabies’ pair Pone Fa’amuasili, Jordan Uelese, Australian A squad member Matt Gibbon, Sam Talakai, Cabous Eloff and Cameron Orr.
Hailing from Wellington (NZ), Rangi quickly established himself as a fan favourite at the Rebels after arriving at the end of 2017.
Rangi played all but one match in his first season in Melbourne, with his fierce determination at the set piece and in defence winning respect and admiration from his new teammates, leading to Rangi claiming the Rebels’ highest individual honour, the 2018 Players’ Player award.
The New Zealander made 20 appearances over the next two seasons before departing the Rebels during the 2020 COVID shutdown and plying his trade overseas for Japanese side the NTT Communications Shining Arcs, alongside former Rebel Sam Jeffries.
Rangi says the time away made him appreciate just how special playing for the Rebels in Australia’s Sporting Capital really is.
“I can’t wait to head back over,” said Rangi.
“I’m a big fan of the Club’s direction, it’s culture and the coaches – Footey, Geoff Parling, Will Markwick.
“I really enjoyed my time at the Rebels, especially playing in front of the Club’s fans who were awesome at AAMI Park, so I can’t wait to get back on the field and do that again.
“Playing overseas has taught me quite a bit, so I’ll be looking to bring that experience back to the Rebels and offer value to the Club’s younger players where I can.
“Experiencing something different for a couple of years has really made me excited about rejoining Melbourne once again, so I can’t wait to get started.”
Melbourne Rebels GM of Rugby, Nick Stiles, said it was great to regain such an influential figure at the Club.
“Anaru brings a lot of value to the Rebels both on and off the field,” said Stiles.
“As we continue to strengthen our culture, we’ve been diligent on the type of characters we want to bring into our Club. Anaru will only compliment what we’re trying to build, so we’re excited to welcome him back to the Rebels.
“Recruiting players that are of high character, display strong leadership qualities and who have already shared experiences with the players and staff is a key part of our recruitment strategy.”