Former All Black centre Tamati Ellison has agreed a contract extension with the Rebels that will keep him playing Super Rugby in Melbourne for two more years.
Ellison, who has four caps for the All Blacks, joined the Club in 2014 after nearly 80 appearances with the Blues, Hurricanes and Highlanders in his native New Zealand.
The aggressive midfielder, capable of playing either inside or outside centre, scored his first try for the Club in the Round Thirteen defeat to the Hurricanes at AAMI Park.
He has formed a dangerous combination with Mitch Inman in the Rebels' midfield this season, impressing all with his stoic defence and ferocious determination with the ball in hand.
Tamati had options to return to New Zealand, however his young family have settled well into life in Melbourne and he was keen to continue his association with the Club, where he is the second-oldest player on the list. His experience will be vital as the Club continues to blood exciting young backline talent.
"It was tough deciding what to do; I was lucky enough to have options back in New Zealand to consider, and with my family missing home a wee bit I had to consider that," Ellison admitted.
"At the same time, I've really enjoyed my time here.
"We love Melbourne. My family and I have been fortunate enough to be associated with some great teams in the past; we love it in New Zealand, in Japan but also here. This year's gone a bit too quickly, but we're keen to spend more time here."
Rebels' coach Tony McGahan said that he is thrilled to see Tamati staying with the Rebels program for a further two seasons, lauding the impact he has already had on the young group assembled to take the Rebels into the future.
"For us to have Tamati here this year has been absolutely fantastic for the playing group, for the coaches, and certainly for the Club," McGahan said.
"He has been a great addition of experience into a young backline, in terms of standards and expectations. For him to re-commit for another two years is absolutely fabulous news for the whole Club; coaches, members and the whole playing group, but particularly the backs. I'm delighted that he sees his future in Melbourne."
Ellison had to turn down a potential return to the All Blacks ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, with their policy mirroring Australia and ruling players plying their trade abroad as ineligible for selection, however McGahan was not surprised to see Tamati extend his contract.
"If you have seen his commentary over the year, he is extremely happy here with the program and the playing group," McGahan said.
"He is a very considered player and a big thinker about Rugby, so he wanted to think about the best opportunity for himself and his family and we expected that."
Ellison believes that the Club is on the verge of something special, and is looking forward to being part of it.
"I think our only limitations are the ones we put on ourselves," he said.
"For me, I am going to try and help to grow this Club through my actions, and growing my own game through improving as much as possible. Hopefully that can rub off on a few of the other boys and we can all head in the right direction. I wouldn't have signed here if I didn't think we could grow.
"There's a great group of men in this team, and that helped my decision to stay; both the playing potential, but also what the guys are like."
"It's a group that is really hungry, and a group that's willing to grow, and that's been great; I'm really looking forward to working with these boys over the next two seasons."