South African does U-turn on Munster deal; becomes a Rebel
NEWS: Western Force coach David Wessels has knocked back overtures from Ireland to remain in Australia.
The 34-year-old South African will, instead, head up the Melbourne Rebels.
After the Perth-based Force were controversially axed from Super Rugby last month, he was being courted by Irish powerhouse Munster.
But he has now joined the Rebels on a two-year deal.
"For me, the decision was driven by a strong feeling of 'unfinished business' in Super Rugby," Wessels said.
"I'm very passionate about rugby, and the game in this country has provided me with the opportunity to fulfil my dream to coach professionally."
The highly rated Wessels, who has been tipped as a potential future Australia coach, said the Rebels shared an "outsiders" label with his former franchise, having also been threatened with elimination from Super Rugby.
"These are very powerful galvanising forces for a franchise, and we're very motivated by the fact that it's 'us versus the rest'," he said.
Wessels joined the Force as an assistant coach in 2013 and took over as head coach last year.
There is speculation that he could lure some of the Force's star players to Melbourne.
"We're delighted that Dave will be joining us. He's one of the brightest and most sought-after coaches in world rugby," Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson said.
"He showed real leadership through an incredibly difficult period at the Western Force and has demonstrated his ability to build a world-class rugby program."
Wessels said he was "very grateful" to everyone at the Rebels and within Australia for helping make this move possible.
"Part of repaying this faith is realising the success that I know we're capable of.
"Make no mistake, our goal is to win Super Rugby.
"We're finalising an exciting group of coaches and players who will not only contribute to building an enviable and winning culture at the franchise, but who will progress us towards that ultimate goal.
"I'm excited about the prospect of coaching in Melbourne as the Rebels share many of the characteristics I have grown to love from my time in Western Australia: their players and fans have shared our uncertainity over the past couple of months and we are the 'outsiders' of the traditional powers in Australian rugby.
"These are very powerful galvanising forces for a franchise, and we're very motivated by the fact that it's 'us versus the rest'."
The Melbourne Rebels will make further announcement regarding the make-up of their playing roster and coaching staff in the coming weeks.
The Melbourne Rebels will kick-off their 2018 Super Rugby campaign at home against the Queensland Reds In Melbourne on Friday, February 23.