Melbourne – The Melbourne Rebels have confirmed their squad for the 2020 Super Rugby season.
In what marks the franchise’s 10th season in Super Rugby, the Rebels have added a mix of depth, experience and local talent among the fourteen new faces who join the 26 players retained from their 2019 campaign.
Former Sharks lock Gideon Koegelenberg and Bulls prop Cabous Eloff are notable inclusions, with the latter awarded a Rebels Development Squad Contract for 2020.
In the last six months, the Rebels have re-signed seven players, including returning Wallaby debutant Isi Naisarani and John Eales Medal winner, Marika Koroibete.
They also confirmed the return of outside back Tom English, who will be in a race with Luke Jones to see who can be first to 100 Rebels caps.
With the departure of experiences halfbacks Will Genia and Quade Cooper to Kintetsu in Japan, the Rebels are set to enter the season with a new look 9-10 pairing under the guidance of attack coach, Shaun Berne.
“At scrumhalf, we have three new guys who will be scrapping it out in James Tuttle, Frank Lomani and Ryan Louwrens,” Berne told the Rebels’ official website.
“Frank is an international and is really developing as a player, whilst James and Ryan have great qualities and Super Rugby experience. We don’t know yet who the front-runner is, which is exciting. It all boils down to how hard they want to compete for that spot in pre-season.
“Beyond that, we’re very fortunate to have some sensational back line talent with Matt To’omua looking set to play his first full season with us, joining Marika, Dane and Reece in returning from the World Cup.”
Among the forwards, the fight for a spot in the back and front rows garners the most attention.
Wallabies Naisarani, Hardwick and Jones will compete against the likes of Rob Leota, Brad Wilkin and new recruits Michael Wells, Boyd Killingworth and Josh Kemeny for a place in the match day 23.
“Competition is the best medicine for improving standards,” identified forwards coach Geoff Parling.
“We made giants strides in our set piece last year but we realise the bar must be raised again if we are to challenge week in and week out in all aspects of scrum, lineout and open play. The new faces in the group have already brought a new edge and class.”
Up front, experienced campaigners Ruan Smith and Cameron Orr are the Rebels new book-ends, and Koegelenberg bolsters the retention of Matt Philip, Ross Haylett-Petty and emerging local talent Trevor Hosea.
The Rebels kick off their 2020 campaign against the Sunwolves in Japan on February 1.
Rebels Super Rugby squad:
Jermaine Ainsley, Angus Cottrell, Andrew Deegan, Cabous Eloff, Tom English, Mees Erasmus, Pone Fa’amausili, Matt Gibbon, Esei Haangana, Richard Hardwick, Ross Haylett-Petty, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Trevor Hosea, Luke Jones, Andrew Kellaway, Josh Kemeny, Boyd Killingworth, Gideon Koegelenberg, Marika Koroibete, Rob Leota, Frank Lomani, Ryan Louwrens, Jack Maddocks, Campbell Magnay, Billy Meakes, Declan Moore, Isi Naisarani, Cameron Orr, Matt Philip, Harry Potter, Anaru Rangi, Fereti Sa’aga, Ruan Smith, Matt To’omua, Semisi Tupou, James Tuttle, Jordan Uelese, Michael Wells, Brad Wilkin