Rebels add neighbours' muscle to pack
TRANSFER NEWS: The Melbourne Rebels have bulked up its front row with the addition of Reds Sam Talakai and Western Force Jermaine Ainsley.
The promising pair will be a further boost to the Rebels pack, complementing the recent signings of forwards Tetera Faulkner, Ben Daley and re-signing of fan favourite back rower Amanaki Mafi.
The 26-year-old Talakai, who has signed until the end of 2019, has made 41 Super Rugby appearances for the Queensland Reds since his debut against the Brumbies in the opening round of the 2015 Super Rugby season.
After impressing in the inaugural season of the National Rugby Championship (NRC), Talakai earned his first shot at Super Rugby, where he quickly became a regular feature for the Reds over the last three years, appearing in 41 of a possible 46 Super Rugby games, including 12 starts in 2017.
"I'm very excited to join the Rebels for the next two seasons," Talakai said. "The Rebels have made great strides to build on the talent already at the club and I'm looking forward to playing a part in that movement.
"I'm a big believer in competition bringing out the best in players, and with the forward pack building it's a great place for me to continue my development as a player in a world-class environment. I'm just pumped about the opportunity presented and I will work hard to help the club reach its full potential,"
Ainsley, who has signed until the end of 2018, earned his first Wallabies selection this year when the 22-year-old was named in the training squad for The Rugby Championship after coming of age during the 2017 Super Rugby season with the Western Force.
The son of former All Black and Highlanders and Hurricanes player Joe McDonnell, the 115kg prop made 17 appearances for the Force following his Super Rugby debut against the Rebels in the opening round of the 2016 season.
"The Melbourne Rebels will provide me with the opportunity to further my career in a quality rugby program full of top players and coaches," Ainsley said.
"I’ve got great belief in the vision of the club so I’m looking forward to being a part of an exciting new era for the Rebels,"
Melbourne Rebels head coach David Wessels said the duo will have plenty to prove in the new environment.
"Sam and Jermaine are two young props with bright futures and I expect them to prosper in our program and contribute to the successful future of the Melbourne Rebels," Wessels said.
“Sam has established himself as a consistent performer and a natural leader with a very high skill set for a prop over the last couple of years with the Queensland Reds and Brisbane City.
“I’ve been really impressed by Jermaine’s enormous development over the last couple of years, which has been recognised with his first Wallabies selection, and I believe that he’s got a big future in Australian rugby.”