The Melbourne Rebels have almost completed their 2013 Super Rugby squad with nine new faces joining the club, plus five new recruits in the Extended Playing Squad (EPS), and a further spot yet to be filled as the club enters its third season in the Super Rugby competition.
With the departure of players such as Stirling Mortlock, Al Campbell, Mark Gerrard and Adam Freier among others, there has been a clear adjustment in both the age and experience of the players in the squad for the forthcoming season.
"We planned from the outset to recruit experienced players in our start up seasons to assist with the development of a strong culture and playing style," said Head Coach Damien Hill.
"The involvement of these foundation players will continue in other ways; Sam Cordingley has stayed with the organisation in a recruitment capacity and Stirling Mortlock will play a part in our coaching structure next season."
Headlining the new arrivals is current Wallaby and 2012 ARU Super Rugby Player of the Year runner-up Scott Higginbotham who joins the club from the Queensland Reds. His athleticism and aggression will complement high-class back-row options for Hill such as current captain Gareth Delve and Jarrod Saffy.
"Scott is an important recruit for the organisation as we step up for 2013," said Hill.
"We are building an exciting, well balanced squad with the likes of current Wallabies James O'Connor, Kurtley Beale, Scott Higginbotham, Cooper Vuna and Nick Phipps, and several other players including Luke Jones, Hugh Pyle, Caderyn Neville, Mitch Inman, Laurie Weeks, Richard Kingi and Jarrod Saffy who we also expect to push for Wallaby selection.
"There are also several young players, such as Nic Stirzacker and Angus Roberts, who are to impress next season.
"The exciting thing is that there is still one final spot available. We have a few options that are more than capable of playing Super Rugby, but it will come down to who wants it more."
Twenty-two year old Alex Rokobaro joins the club having spent the past 12 months in France with Stade Francais. The versatile outside back will be familiar to the club's supporters having been part of the Rebel Rising program in 2011.
Rory Sidey is another player with great versatility who will become a Rebel next season. At only 26, the experienced Sidey has had a taste of European Rugby with Newport-Gwent Dragons, and has spent the last three seasons in Super Rugby with the NSW Waratahs and Western Force, collecting 30 caps.
Ryan Tyrrell will join Sidey at the Rebels in 2013. The hulking 112kg hooker will provide competition for the number two jersey with incumbent Ged Robinson after the losses of Freier, Luke Holmes and Heath Tessmann at the end of last season.
Wallaby squad members Hugh Pyle and Cadeyrn Neville, and powerful young lock Luke Jones have been joined in the second-row by experienced line-out specialist Chris Thomson. Standing at an imposing 204cm Thomson will be the tallest Australian player in Super Rugby, and he is keen to prove himself in the competition once again after spending the past two seasons with Narbonne in France.
After some eye catching displays in the NSW Shute Shield competition for Sydney University, 22-year old fullback Angus Roberts gets his opportunity in Super Rugby as a back-up option to Wallaby star Kurtley Beale.
Excitement machine and former Brumby Kimami Situati joins the club having represented Queensland and Australian Schoolboys teams in his junior days, as well as winning a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the Australian 7's team along with current Rebels halfback Nick Phipps.
After a fantastic Junior Rugby World Cup in 2010 where his New Zealand team went through undefeated, Jason Woodward joins the Rebels having spent time with the Wellington Lions in the ITM Cup competition. He can cover a number of positions including fullback, wing and flyhalf.
Scott Fuglistaller joins the club from the Otago Highlanders. The openside flanker joined the New Zealand Super Rugby team in 2012 from the Wellington Hurricanes Wider Training Group.
2013 Rebels Memberships go on sale today, with priority tickets for The British & Irish Lions to members who join prior to October 31.
2013 REBELS SQUAD
1 Eddie Aholelei 2 Paul Alo-Emile 3 Kurtley Beale 4 Tim Davidson 5 Gareth Delve 6 Scott Fuglistaller 7 Nic Henderson 8 Scott Higginbotham 9 Mitch Inman 10 Luke Jones 11 James King 12 Richard Kingi 13 Lachlan Mitchell 14 Cadeyrn Neville 15 James O'Connor 16 Nick Phipps 17 Hugh Pyle 18 Angus Roberts 19 Ged Robinson 20 Alex Rokobaro 21 Jarrod Saffy 22 Rory Sidey 23 Kimami Sitauti 24 Nic Stirzaker 25 Chris Thomson 26 Ryan Tyrrell 27 Cooper Vuna 28 Laurie Weeks 29 Jason Woodward 30 TBC
EXTENDED PLAYING SQUAD (EPS)
31 Trent Dyer 32 Tom English 33 Bryce Hegarty 34 Patrick Leafa 35 Jordy Reid
IN: Scott Fuglistaller - Otago Highlanders Scott Higginbotham - Queensland Reds Angus Roberts - Sydney University Alex Rokobaro - Stade Francais Rory Sidey – Western Force Kimami Sitauti - ACT Brumbies Chris Thomson - Narbonne Ryan Tyrrell - Cardiff Blues Jason Woodward – Wellington Lions Trent Dyer (EPS) - Sydney University Tom English (EPS) - Sydney University Bryce Hegarty (EPS) - Brisbane Broncos Patrick Leafa (EPS) - Canberra Vikings Jordy Reid (EPS) - Manly Marlins
OUT: Rodney Blake - TBC Adam Byrnes - Russia Alister Campbell - Retired Danny Cipriani - Sale Sharks Tom Chamberlain – TBC Adam Freier - Retired Mark Gerrard – Toyota Shokki James Hilgendorf - TBC Julian Huxley - Narbonne Racing Club Lloyd Johansson - TBC Michael Lipman - Retired Stirling Mortlock - Retired Heath Tessmann - TBC