The Melbourne Rebels are thrilled to unveil their squad for the fast-approaching 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season.
The Rebels will enter next year boasting an exciting squad of experienced and emerging talent, with the core of last year’s side returning including a wide range of internationally capped players such as Andrew Kellaway, Reece Hodge, Matt Philip, Matt Gibbon, Rob Leota, Pone Fa’amausili, Richard Hardwick, and Stacey Ili.
Among the Rebels’ new additions is Alex Mafi, Tuaina Taii Tualima and David Feliuai, while fan favourites Sam Talakai, Anaru Rangi and Ryan Louwrens will return to the Stockade, bringing 148 games worth of Super Rugby experience back to the Club.
It’s been a memorable year for Talakai, who was recently named in the Wallabies Spring Tour squad following three outstanding trial matches for the Rebels.
Italian national star, Monty Ioane, is also set to ignite the AAMI Park faithful in 2023 after signing with the Rebels in September.
The Endeavour Hills product has scored tries in three of his last four matches for both the Rebels and Italy, and looms as a key player to watch next season.
Meanwhile, reigning Players’ Player and Spirit of Weary Dunlop recipients Brad Wilkin and James Tuttle will look to continue their eye-catching form following impressive tours with Australia A in Fiji and Japan.
The Rebels development pathways continues to experience great success, with Australian Under-20’s stars Daniel Maiava, Mason Gordon, David Vaihu and Zac Hough, joining Lebron Naea, Theo Fourie and hulking prop, Jaiden Christian, in being promoted to the Rebels squad.
The Rebels will celebrate the welcomed returns of Josh Kemeny, Lachie Anderson, and Trevor Hosea, with the trio set for big 2023 campaigns after recovering from last year’s injury setbacks, while Joe Pincus looks set to make his Rebels debut after a strong off-season.
Melbourne Rebels Head Coach, Kevin Foote, said he’s thrilled with his squad’s makeup.
“I’m super pumped about our 2023 squad,” said Foote.
“Nick Stiles has done an excellent job recruiting some experienced guys back to the Club, which will be important as we go through this building stage and getting the right people on board to support our younger players as they’re progressing through.
“Guys like Anaru Rangi, Sam Talakai and Ryan Louwrens, are going to be huge for us along with players like Glen Vaihu, Carter Gordon, and Brad Wilkin - all these guys that have played in the Rebels jersey before, that are ready to go to the next level.
“I’m so excited about this squad and so grateful for the work our people have done to bring these guys back, because these players are good Melbourne people and good Rebels players.
“The brand of rugby we want to play and the culture these guys will bring will be huge for us both on and off the field.”
Echoing Foote’s thoughts was Melbourne Rebels GM of Rugby, Nick Stiles, who believes Club’s off-season strategy has fast tracked the Rebels preparation for the new season ahead.
“We are really excited about our squad’s prospects heading into a new season," said Stiles.
“We’ve brought in exceptional leaders and experienced Super Rugby and Test match performers who will complement our returning players and the emerging talent coming through.
“Unlike previous years, our squad has spent the majority of the offseason working together and building our TWI, which has deepened player connection and been so rewarding for everyone at our Club.
“Our players have also gained valuable match experience with trials against the Victorian Axemen, the Brumbies and the Hanazono Kintetsu Liners, which were important experiences that will hold us in good stead for next season.”
The Melbourne Rebels will kick-off their 2023 campaign against the Western Force in Perth on Saturday February 25, before returning to Melbourne to host Super Round against the Hurricanes on Friday, March 3.
Overall, the Rebels will host seven matches at AAMI Park including clashes against the Waratahs, Reds, Blues Crusaders, Brumbies and Force.
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