The Shaw and Partners and TAC Melbourne Rebels U19’s have locked in their squad for the fast approaching 2023 National Championships.
Newly appointed Rebels Head Coach, Eric Tom, has named an exciting 30-man squad, headlined by Super Rugby contracted players Divad Palu, Stuart Tualima and Joey Fowler, plus national representative Wyatt Ballenger.
Fowler and Ballenger yesterday won selection in the prestigious Australian Schools and U18’s representative teams, following in the footsteps of former schoolboy representatives Rob Leota and Leafi Talataina, and loom as players to watch for the upcoming campaign.
This year’s class carries a strong Victorian flavour with Harlequin, Endeavour Hills, Power House, Box Hill, Melbourne Rugby Club and the Moorabbin Rams all represented, as Victorian Rugby continues to go from strength to strength.
Following last year’s return to action, the national five-team development pathway competition gets underway on Saturday 30 September, running until Sunday 5 November, showcasing the next generation of elite Australian talent and providing them opportunities in the pinnacle of domestic age group rugby.
The Rebels U19’s will be led by Power House’s Eric Tom, with Roger Tuamohelo and John Batina named as his lead assistants, while Simon Lumb (Physiotherapist), Leslie Payne (Strength and Conditioning) and Denver Murnane (Team Manager) round out the 2023 staff.
On the dawn of their new campaign, Tom said his players couldn’t wait to get started and represent their community.
“The last few sessions from on-field to review, everyone is really excited with the start of our season now just around the corner,” said Tom.
“We’re really happy with the talent we have and the continuity of the group. A lot of our boys have played alongside each other in the 18’s and even the 16’s, so they’ve already built that on-field connection and chemistry coming through the age grades, which will be a huge asset for us.
“We’ve also got a couple of boys who are contracted with the Rebels Super Rugby program, so to have their leadership, skills and training behaviours put on display at training, that experience has really helped fast track our growth and maturity as a team.
“The support our squad has had from the Rebels’ senior team has been awesome as well. Tim Sampson and Geoff Parling have been great at driving Rebels’ behaviours and language, which is special because ultimately our players goal is to play Super Rugby for the Melbourne Rebels and to represent their hometown. Having that support from up top will help them familiarise Club language and game play and set them up for success when transitioning to that next level.”
Tom’s side will kick off their new season in Perth against the Western Force on September 30, before hosting their opening home match against the Waratahs at Box Hill Rugby Club on Saturday October 7.
Following a round three away clash against the Brumbies at Viking Park, the Rebels return to Box Hill to wrap up their regular season against the Reds on Sunday October 22.
At the completion of the regular season, the top two sides will then face off in the final on Sunday November 5.
Every match of the National U19 and U16 Rugby Championship will be broadcast live on Stan Sport.