The Melbourne Rebels continue to strengthen its investment for the future, confirming the re-signings of Victorian trio Josh Canham, Isaac Aedo Kailea and Divad Palu, while the talented Theo Fourie and Jaiden Christian have also re-committed to the Rebels.
Joining them is Shaw and Partners Rebels academy star, Leafi Talataina who has been promoted to the Club’s Super Rugby squad for 2023. Canham, Kailea, Palu and Talataina are part of the latest wave of talented Victorians to have progressed through the state’s grassroots and elite pathways systems, who have grown up supporting the Rebels since the Club’s Super Rugby arrival in 2011.
Following in the footsteps of Trevor Hosea and Wallabies trio Rob Leota, Jordan Uelese and Pone Fa’amausili, the quartets’ signings cap an exciting time for Victorian rugby following the Rebels playing a record number of Victorian-based players over the past 24 months, promoting a record eight under-18’s academy players to the Rebels’ senior squad in 2021, while also becoming the first Australian Super Rugby Club to pay its Super W players.
Melbourne Rebels GM of Rugby, Nick Stiles, said the Club was thrilled to retain such exciting young talent.
“It’s fantastic to have six talented young players all commit to the Rebels and want to be part of the connected culture we’re growing in Melbourne,” said Stiles.
“Josh and Isaac are leading that next generation of Burn Boys who have come through our pathway system and have already gained Super Rugby experience.
“Divad, Theo and Jaiden are three talented prospects who have impressed everyone at the Club with their growth this year under the close watch of Pom Simona, who has done an excellent job with all of our Elite Pathways players.
“Having another local academy player get promoted is great and something our rugby community should be very proud of.
“It’s been awesome seeing the flow on effect from having a hometown team to support, and development pathways that can provide a clear direction to playing Super Rugby for the Melbourne Rebels.
“Having four more local players be a part of our main squad shows there’s elite talent in Victoria and that our development systems are making a wonderful impact.”
2022 proved to be a season to remember for Josh Canham, with the Brighton Grammar product making his Super Rugby debut during the Rebels’ Round 3 clash against Fijia Drua, before going on to play in 9 of the Rebels’ final 11 matches of the Super Rugby Pacific season. Canham says he’s proud to continue representing his home state.
“I’m extremely proud to have cracked Super Rugby and to represent that next generation of Victorian players coming through,” said Canham.
“You look at my progression, and a number of other guys – it shows there’s talent here and that the pathways are continuing to strengthen.”
Isaac Aedo Kailea will look to build on a promising opening two seasons for the Rebels after debuting in Round 1 of the 2021 Super Rugby AU competition against the Queensland Reds.
The exciting prop overcame several nagging injuries this year to make two Super Rugby appearances, playing back-to-back matches against the Fijian Drua and Brumbies.
Aedo Kailea says he’s determined to enter next season in the best shape of his career.
“I didn’t really get much of an off-season last year during rehab, so I’m thrilled just to be fit, competing and putting my case forward to the coaches,” said Aedo Kailea.
“I’ve be so proud watching what our older boys like Rob, Pone and Josh have achieved. Having Daniel Maiava come has been exciting as well, and that’s something I want to be a part of next year.”
Following the Harlequins’ pair will be Elite Pathways products Divad Palu, Jaiden Christian and Theo Fourie. It’s been a whirlwind twelve-months for Palu, after graduating from the Rebels’ under-18’s academy to progressing through to the Club’s Super Rugby squad and training with the Junior Wallabies throughout 2022.
The Wyndham product said he was grateful for the opportunity to continue living out his dream with his hometown Rebels.
“It’s an honour to be able to represent Burn City and as a local player, I’m so excited to live out my dream and inspire the younger generation to never give up and enjoy,” said Palu.
Hooker, Theo Fourie, continues to impress after joining the Rebels at the end of 2020. Hailing from Queensland, Fourie has worked closely under the guidance of capped internationals Jordan Uelese and James Hanson, and looms as a player to watch in 2023.
“I love the club and the culture that’s been created,” said Fourie.
“I also want to help contribute to success and impact our culture as much as I can, so that’s my focus heading into next year.”
Fourie credited the Club’s coaching staff, particularly Elite Pathways Manager, Pom Simona, whose been crucial in his development on and off the field.
“Pom has been awesome for me,” said Fourie.
“He has put a lot of time and effort into helping me grow as a player within the team, whether it’s helping me with extras, going over footage or just supporting and pushing me.
“Pom has helped me progress so much and I’m excited to continue working with him and the rest of the coaches over the next year.
“He’s shown me the importance of learning to love what you do as well as working hard.”
Echoing Fourie’s sentiments was front rower Jaiden Christian, who also recommitted to the Rebels.
“I’ve learnt so much already from our coaching staff and all the boys at the Club. Even though I’ve still got so much room to grow, the Rebels have helped me tremendously get closer and closer to my end goals and play Super Rugby,” said Christian.
Meanwhile, Leafi Talataina has become the latest Shaw and Partners Rebels academy member to come through the Club’s pathway system and be elevated to its wider training squad.
Shaw and Partners Investment Adviser Ben Morrissey says Talataina’s promotion was fantastic news for the Victorian rugby community.
“Shaw and Partners wanted to support and help develop the talent that already exists here in Melbourne.
Leafi is an example of that unearthed talent, a disciplined young man with a bright future who put these skills on display during the recent under-18 national tournament,” said Morrissey.
“We wish Leafi all the best as he transitions from the Under-18 Academy in 2022 to the Elite Pathways Program with the main squad in 2023.”