The Melbourne Rebels have boosted its lock and backrow options, today unveiling Tuaina Taii Tualima as the Club’s latest signing for the upcoming 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season.
Tualima has committed to the Rebels on a multi-year deal, which will see him call Melbourne home until at least the end of 2024.
Hailing from Auckland (NZ), Tualima is no stranger at The Stockade, having represented the 2017 Rebels Under-20’s alongside Pone Fa'amausili and Jordan Uelese, under the guidance of current Elite Pathways Coach Pom Simona.
Following an impressive pair of seasons playing for Brisbane City in the NRC alongside current Rebel Moses Sorovi (2018 – 2019), Tualima signed with the Queensland Reds at the beginning of the 2020 season, going on to make nine appearances, including the 2020 Super Rugby AU Final against the Brumbies.
The twenty-five-year-old shapes as a valuable addition to the Rebels’ lock and backrow stocks, featuring alongside capped internationals Matt Philip, Rob Leota, and Richard Hardwick, reigning Players’ Player Brad Wilkin, the returning Trevor Hosea and Josh Kemeny, and emerging pair Josh Canham and Tamati Ioane.
Tualima says he’s eager to reunite with some familiar faces and help the Rebels push for finals in 2023.
“I’m so excited to be part of what the Rebels are building next year and further develop my skills alongside my new teammates, Kevin Foote and Geoff Parling,” said Tualima.
“The Rebels put in some great performances towards the backend of last season, so I can’t wait to be part of this team and celebrate wins with the boys throughout my time here.
“In 2017, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be part of the Rebels Development Squad and got the chance to represent their under-20’s team, which was amazing. Working under Pom Simona was great, and I look forward to reuniting with him later this year.
“I’m so hungry to learn, improve and put in the hard work to further build my knowledge in such a great environment.”
Melbourne Rebels Elite Pathways Coach, Pom Simona, says the Rebels were excited to sign such an outstanding player and person to the Club.
“The first thing that sticks out about Tuaina is that he's an excellent human being,” said Simona.
“When I think back on Tuaina's time here I think of someone who embodies our values of selflessness off the field and fight on it.
“He's an excellent team man that will go out of his way to help others but brings a real physical edge when he crosses the line.
“I'm looking forward to having him back in Melbourne and he'll offer a lot to our environment.”