Melbourne Super Rugby franchise the Rebels have signed former England international and British & Irish Lions lock Geoff Parling for the 2018 Super Rugby season.
The Rebels are one of two Australian teams under threat of losing their place in Super Rugby next season but have still signed Parling for next year.
The announcement comes just days after the 32-Test veteran lifted the 2017 Aviva Premiership Rugby trophy, in which he played a key role in Exeter’s thrilling 23-20 extra-time victory over the Wasps at Twickenham.
Parling’s signature is the first announced by an Australian Super Rugby club since the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) lifted the moratorium on player contracting.
“Geoff’s signing is a strategic recruitment for the club as we look to evolve our squad and program for 2018 and beyond,” Melbourne Rebels Chief Executive Officer Baden Stephenson said.
“Geoff boasts a wealth of international and domestic experience in successful rugby programs so he will contribute to the strong leadership at the club, along with his world class lineout skills and hard running qualities which will complement our squad.”
Parling has over 250 games of domestic experience with the Newcastle Falcons (2003-09), where he won the players’ player award in 2005-06, before he joined the Leicester Tigers (2009-15) and finally Exeter Chiefs (2015-17).
Parling starred in Exeter’s first Aviva Premiership with his lineout nous and powerful running setting the platform for the historic victory.
Parling, 199-centimetre and 117kilogram lock, made his international debut with England in 2012 before going on to make 29 appearances for the Red Rose and earn selection for the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour of Australia.
“After some really enjoyable years in the Premiership, I’m excited about the opportunity to test myself in the Southern Hemisphere that Super Rugby brings,” Parling said.
“Hopefully I can add value to the Rebels, and help the team continue the great growth and profile of rugby in Victoria.”
Parling will join the Melbourne Rebels in January 2018.
The Melbourne Rebels are on Super Rugby break during the Test Rugby series and will resume the 2017 season when they take on the Western Force, Friday 7th July at nib Stadium Perth.