Foundation Rebel Nic Henderson may have retired from professional Rugby at the culmination of the 2013 season after over 100 Super Rugby caps, however the popular former Wallaby prop will not be lost to the game after accepting an offer to commence full-time employment with the Club.
Henderson joins fellow ex-Wallabies, and Foundation Rebels, Sam Cordingley, Adam Freier, Stirling Mortlock and Al Campbell in retaining involvement in the Club.
These men represent a growing breed prepared to come to Melbourne, grow the game of Rugby in Victoria and turn this city into their home.
Henderson is very grateful to Rebels CEO Rob Clarke and General Manager Rugby, Sam Cordingley, for providing him with the opportunity to remain with the Rebels.
"I think it is great for the Club, and for the young players, to have so many experienced Rebels still here around them," Henderson says.
"As an ex-professional, if you don't have a resume that stands out with university expertise it can be hard to find an employer that can see the attributes you have taken from the sport, and how they can cross over to the workplace.
"Having Rob Clarke and Sam Cordingley on board is great, as they know we have skills which can be transferrable to the workplace, even if we don't have the requisite experience on paper."
"Sometimes ex-players' knowledge and intellectual property can be a little overlooked, but if we have people in power who are able to recognise these abilities, we will hopefully see more players moving into the administration side of things in order to stay involved in the game they love."
Henderson's role, as the 5 Star Engagement Program Coordinator, will see him work closely with players through their work with schools and Clubs.
Under the direction of Cam Yorke, who oversees the Club's 5 Star Engagement program, Henderson will also work within the community development team.
"I'll be helping to take care of the players, making sure that we are getting them out to their schools and Clubs as often as possible," Henderson says. "It's also about making that involvement beneficial; ensuring that the levels of engagement are as fulfilling as possible for both the Clubs and the schools."
"The other side of my role will be working as a development officer whenever I have spare time. I'll be getting out there with the kids to help teach them about Rugby and have some fun playing the game."
With so much emphasis from the Victorian Rugby public on finding and nurturing Victorian talent into the Rebels, Henderson's work with the Clubs and through community development will play a vital role in hopefully producing home grown talent for the Club in the coming seasons.
"The discussions regarding non-selected Rebels for 2014 are continuing to take place at the moment. Moving forward, having them featuring in Victorian Club Rugby is definitely something that we want to do as often as possible.
"We have invested so much time into the game here off the field, and now we need to invest some resources on the field. It involves the players getting stuck into the competition down here whenever they have the chance. It would be great one day to have the guys down here training and playing for twelve months a year; it will serve to strengthen the competition and help the junior guys coming through too."
With Membership renewals going on sale last Tuesday, Henderson is one of the latest Registered Rebels to jump on board.
"The entire Club's on and off-field staff has been heavily encouraged to sign up as 2014 Members," Henderson says. "I think it is very important to sign up, and have some ownership in the Club that you play or work for."
"I have quite proudly become a Member of the Club in 2014. I'll admit that I never signed up while I was a player, and in hindsight it is something I really regret."
"Now that I can see things from the other side of the fence, I think it is such an important thing to walk the talk by registering, particularly as we target 10,000 Members. I've signed up, and you will see Jodie and I sitting in the stands with our Rebels caps on in 2014."
CEO Rob Clarke was delighted to hear Nic had registered.
"It's great to have Nic on board as an employee, and even better to see him committing to the Club as a Member," Clarke said. "It is so vital that everybody here at the Club does show the way and sign up, and we invite you to join us on the journey by becoming a Registered Rebel as we target 10,000 Members."
Henderson believes exciting times are coming for the Club, and there is no better time to sign up.
"In 2014, our Members can look forward to watching the players build on the steady improvement of the last three years," he says. "We may have finished fairly low down on the table, but we also missed out on 4 wins by less than 7 points against quality opposition.
"We have added some quality signings, and I think everybody around the Club can see the improvement the guys are going to make in turning those close losses into wins. There is this really genuine feeling that things' changing is just around the corner, and the good times are coming.
"It's a great time for all the Victory Rugby community to come together, as one in union, and it is so important that we continue to grow the game."