Promising trio joins the Rebels
NEWS: Rising stars Fereti Sa’aga, Ikapote Tupai and Ah-Mu Tuimalealiifano have extended the Melbourne Rebels roster' when the three signed development contracts.
The trio, along with Brisbane-native Semisi Tupou, will take the next step in their promising rugby careers after they committed to continuing their development under the guidance of head coach Tony McGahan at the Super Rugby franchise.
After impressing during the 2016 National Rugby Championship with the Melbourne Rising, Sa’aga, Tupai and Tuimalealiifano join the growing list of local products at the Rebels, following in the footsteps of Sione Tuipulotu, Rob Leota and Jordan Uelese.
The contracts cap off a memorable 12 months for Tuapi and Tuimalealiifano after the duo were members of the Rebels Under-20 team that contested the inaugural Super 20 Championship Grand Final, selected for Australia for the World Rugby U20 Championship and made their Rising debuts in 2016.
The Melbourne Unicorns flanker and Harlequins winger both made seven appearances for the Rising, including five starts and a try, in their first season with the underpinning team.
Melbourne-born and raised Sa’aga, a Melbourne University prop, represented the Australian Schoolboys in 2013, Samoa U20s in 2014 and Australia U20s at the 2015 World Rugby U20s Championship in Italy.
The powerful and promising loosehead has made 11 appearances for the Melbourne Rising since his debut in Round 5 against the NSW Country Eagles in the inaugural year of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship in 2014.
"It’s great to be given the opportunity and even better to do it with close mates who have dreamt about playing for the Rebels after progressing through the Rebels’ pathway programs," Sa’aga said.
Tupou is the latest from the Nudgee College production line of talented players with the 18-year-old back, who finished his final year of high school this year, is a Queensland representative. Tupou attracted the interest of some profile NRL teams, however, he saw a terrific opportunity to fast track his Rugby development in Melbourne.
"The latest signings continue the franchise’s ambition to support promising players, exciting local talent, and help nurture their development in a professional Super Rugby environment," Melbourne Rebels General Manager Rugby Baden Stephenson said.