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Melbourne Rebels Make Historic Leadership Announcement



The Melbourne Rebels have celebrated the dawning of a new season by making one of the most exciting announcements in Club history.  

Born and bred Victorian, Rob Leota, was today officially named Club Captain for Season 2023, becoming the first homegrown player to be chosen for the men’s key leadership position. Leota was joined by Ashley Marsters, who was named Captain of the Rebels Super W team. 

Today’s announcement marks the first time in Rebels’ history that both Captains have grown up in Melbourne. 

Reece Hodge and Brad Wilkin have been named Leota’s deputies, with Wilkin leading the Rebels until Leota returns to the field later in 2023. Meanwhile, the experienced Meretiana Robinson has been chosen as Vice-Captain of the Rebels Super W program.  

Leota began his rugby journey playing for the Northern Panthers, quickly rising through the ranks of state and national rugby, including winning selection in the Australian Under 20’s Schoolboy side in 2015.  

Shortly after, Leota became the first homegrown player to sign a Super Rugby contract with the Rebels, with the nineteen-year-old going on to make his debut for his boyhood Club against the Crusaders in Round 16.  

Supported by his loving parents every step of the way, Leota enjoyed a breakout 2021 season, leading to him making Wallabies debut later that year.  

The twenty-five-year-old has since played 13 Tests for Australia, and 45 matches for his beloved Melbourne Rebels, while also evolving into an important leader in the Victorian Pasifika community.  

“I was speechless,” said Leota upon reflection of the decision. 

“My family were very proud as well. My Dad isn’t a man of many words, but I know when he doesn’t say much, he’s very proud. My family has a lot to do with my motivation playing rugby.  

“I want to thank Paul Docherty, Baden, the Board and the whole Club. I was really shy back then, but going through the years, I’ve been able to grow into the character I am today, and be comfortable with who I am. I love this Club and the relationships I’ve made here. 

“The boys know I like to have fun, but I know I have their respect when I take the field and I’m able to flick that switch, and that’s how I want to lead the team. My job now is to help and mentor the guys to prepare themselves and make themselves feel comfortable. I feel that when we do build those connections, we will be able to play our best brand when we take the field.

“Being able to represent my family and the Victorian community and set an example to players who are coming through the pathways like myself, is huge for me.  

“With Footey’s help, seeing these pathways boys coming through, signing contracts and debuting for their hometown team, it’s now my job to help up-skill them and help them play their best footy.”

Melbourne Rebels Head Coach, Kevin Foote, said it was a proud day for the Rebels and Rugby Victoria.  

“I had spoken to Rob’s parents the day before last year’s Bledisloe in Melbourne, and asked for their blessing and that we wanted Rob Leota to Captain us,” said Foote.  

“Rob is obviously a Melbourne boy, but he’s also a warrior and exactly who he needs to be off the field. When he gets on the field, he plays with the spirit that we want and one that excites people to come and want to play our great game.  

“While Rob is unavailable, we’re lucky to have another great character that will be Captaining us in Brad Wilkin, who I’ve coached for a long time.  

Brad made it into Australia A last year and was awarded two player of the games, which we were so proud about. He’s a stalwart of the Club and an absolute warrior, do we’re so excited to have both these men leading us in 2023.” 

Wilkin’s ascension caps a remarkable turnaround for the twenty-seven-year-old. 

After overcoming three ACL injuries, Wilkin enjoyed his best season in Rebels colours last year, playing every match of the Super Rugby Pacific season, going on to win honors with Australia A and receive the Rebels prestigious Players’ Player Award.  

Having arrived in Melbourne in 2019, Wilkin has gone on to play 29 matches for the Rebels, going on to become of the Club’s most respected voices.  

“It’s a massive honour and something I’m really proud of,” said Wilkin. 

“I’m stoked for the opportunity to lead this team. We’ve spoken a lot about where we want to go and how we want to grow and that’s been driving our behaviours in pre-season. I’m very confident in this group and know it’s going to be a great season this year. I can’t wait to rip in.” 

Meanwhile, Wallaroos star, Ashley Marsters, will become just the fourth Captain in Rebels Super W history, as she leads an exciting Rebels Super W outfit in 2023.  

A staple of Victorian rugby having represented Box Hill, Harlequins and Moorabbin, Marsters was a member of the inaugural Rebels Super W side in 2018 and has since played every Super W season. 

The twenty-nine-year-old is also a crucial member of the Wallaroos, having represented the national team at two World Cups, and going on to make 17 appearances in the green and gold.  

“I’m proud to lead this awesome group in 2023,” said Marsters.  

“We got a great, young, energetic group, that’s always trying to compete at training, plus a few older heads who bring a lot of experience, so that’s going to set our team up for a successful season ahead.  

“While I’m leading, I’ll be aiming to towards helping girls with aspirations to get in the gold jersey from Melbourne and that will be great.” 

Melbourne Rebels Super W Head Coach, Jason Rogers, said Marsters appointment was an easy decision. 

“Ash always leads from the front,” said Rogers.  

“Her comms on field and off field are always direct and motivating for our girls. When we were going through process and I had a chat with her before naming her as Captain, she asked me, ‘JR, what’s your vision for us in 2023?’  

“I told her, it would be awesome if those who were watching us for eighty minutes, would be standing clapping and cheering for us as we run-off after eighty-minutes because of our performance and how we played. When I saw the glint in her eye, I knew Ash would be our Captain.” 

Content & Images from – Melbourne Rebels Rugby

Super Rugby

Brad Shields named 2024 Hurricanes Captain



Brad Shields named 2024 Hurricanes Captain

Experienced loose-forward and Hurricanes centurion Brad Shields has today been confirmed as captain of the Hurricanes ahead of their 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

He will be supported by Asafo Aumua and Jordie Barrett, who have been named as vice-captains for 2024.

Shields, who played 103 games for the Hurricanes between 2012 and 2018, before heading offshore to pursue a test career with England, signed with the Hurricanes last year, eyeing a return for this season.

He takes over the reins from 2023 captain Ardie Savea who departed for Japan this season.

The captain’s tag is a title the 32-year-old is not unfamiliar with, having led the Hurricanes in their 31-all draw against the British and Irish Lions in 2017, and then taking on the role for the entire 2018 season.

Shields said he is honoured to be given the captain’s armband for 2024, but it is a role he will lean on many of his experienced teammates for support.

“I’m hugely excited and honoured to be leading the Hurricanes this season,” said Shields.

“I admit, after Clarky (Clark Laidlaw) told me I was really stoked, but I did feel a little apprehensive given I had been away for a few years and the quality of leadership we have at the Hurricanes. But at the end of the day, it’s a massive challenge and opportunity I’m excited for, and what makes it more exciting is there is a handful of guys here with so much experience who I know I will turn to for support. We’ll all work together with this one.”

Hurricane #184 said he intends to lead by his actions this season which he hopes will bring out the best out of a young Hurricanes team, and Hurricanes fans.

“Actions. Always by actions is how I like to lead,” said Shields.

“I really want to challenge our environment because challenge always brings better performances. We’ve got a really young team this season so anywhere I can help and encourage and bring the best out of some of the young guys, and the players who have been here for a while, is what I aim for.

“The one thing that’s massive for us at the Hurricanes is connection within our community. Ultimately, we’ve got to play good rugby and perform really well if we want bums on seats, but it certainly means a lot to know we’ve got our community behind us, and we’ll do everything we can to give them a good service and make 2024 an exciting and enjoyable season to watch.”

Having an abundance of experienced leaders in this Hurricanes side didn’t make the captaincy decision an easy one for Hurricanes Head Coach Clark Laidlaw.

However, Laidlaw said he and the other coaches were impressed with Shields’ attitude the moment he stepped back into camp and became an obvious choice as the right man to lead the side.

“The coaches and I do a lot of observing around leadership of the team, and it became reasonably apparent that we have several players that want to lead which is really exciting,” said Laidlaw.  

“But with Brad, he leads really well every day. He’s a great role model around how we want to train; he’s competitive as hell; he’s won Super Rugby; he’s a test match player; he’s bigger and stronger than he’s been before; and he knows what it takes to win and to lead. So, at the end of the day, he became an obvious choice.

“One of the best things about Brad is that he wants to be better. That’s an important trait to have as a leader as it rubs off on everyone else. We as coaches want our captain to represent what we want the team to look like. And we felt with Brad’s experience and his maturity, he’s the right man to lead us forward for this season.”

Laidlaw also echoed Shields’ comments on looking to his teammates for support this season.

“Brad will lead the side, but we do have a number of other players with Asafo and Jordie, who are going to be vice-captains of the team, and our leadership group will support Brad and help the coaches this season.”


Content & Images from – Hurricanes Rugby

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Super Rugby

Waratahs Squad announced for 2024 Super Rugby Season



The NSW Waratahs confirmed its initial 34-player squad for the 2024 Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific season with a couple more spots to be decided in pre-season.

Props: Angus Bell, Archer Holtz, Daniel Botha, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Tom Lambert, Tom Ross

Hookers: Dave Porecki, Mahe Vaianu, Theo Fourie

Locks: Hugh Sinclair, Jed Holloway, Miles Amatosero, Ned Hanigan

Loose forwards: Charlie Gamble, Fergus Lee-Warner, Lachlan Swinton, Langi Gleeson, Ned Slack-Smith

Halfbacks: Jack Grant, Jake Gordon, Teddy Wilson

Flyhalves: Jack Bowen, Tane Edmed, Will Harrison

Centres: Izaia Perese, Joey Walton, Lalakai Foketi, Mosese Tuipulotu

Outside backs: Dylan Pietsch, Harry Wilson, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Max Jorgensen, Vuate Karawalevu

New signings and re-signings

For all new signings and re-signing, you can follow our 2024 Waratahs Contract tracker.

Content & Images from – Waratahs Rugby

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Super Rugby

Highlanders 2024 Squad Announcement




The Highlanders will usher into the fold a swag of new players for the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific competition.

Some have already made brief appearances last season such as halfback Nathan Hastie, loose forward Oliver Haig, hooker Jack Taylor and midfielders Jake Te Hiwi and Matt Whaanga. Several players have come through the John Jones Steel Highlander’s High Performance Programme such as first-five, Ajay Faleafaga, and loose forward Hayden Michaels.

Also new to the team, and adding depth to the outside back stocks, are the arrival of blockbusting winger and former Moana Pasifika star, Timoci Tavatavanawai, and Blues’ speedster Jacob Ratumaituvuki-Kneepkens. Argentinian winger, Martín Bogado, fresh from the 2023 World Cup, will return to further his Super Rugby experience in New Zealand.

Another former Blues player will add strength to the midfield in the form of Tanielu Tele’a who will be looking to get his career back on track after being hampered by injury in recent seasons.

Former Welsh international, Rhys Patchell, will bring his vital experience to the first-five role which will be good news for young pivots Cameron Millar and Ajay Faleafaga.

All Black, Ethan De Groot, will be joined in the forward pack by veteran loose forward and former Crusader Tom Sanders.

Highlanders’ Head Coach, Clarke Dermody, is looking forward to the preseason and the opportunity to work with his players.

“We have had a few changes in our squad and our coaching group so it will be great to get everyone together and start building some cohesion through the preseason. We will just about have our whole squad together from day one, which is a nice opportunity for us.”

“I am also pleased to see some of the younger players that we have invested in over the last few years start to come through to Super Rugby level. I am sure their individual enthusiasm will be infectious for the squad. 

The team assembles on Thursday 23 November 2023.



Backs:  James Arscott (Otago), Connor Garden-Bachop (Wellington), Martín Bogado (Argentina), Folau Fakatava (Hawkes Bay), Ajay Faleafaga (Otago), Sam Gilbert (Otago), Nathan Hastie (Otago), Jacob Ratumaituvuki-Kneepkens (Taranaki), Jonah Lowe (Hawkes Bay), Cameron Millar (Otago), Jona Nareki (Otago), Rhys Patchell (Wales), Jake Te Hiwi (Otago), Timoci Tavatavanawai (Tasman), Tanielu Tele’a (Auckland), Josh Timu (Otago), Matt Whaanga (Southland)

Forwards: Jermaine Ainsley (Otago), Henry Bell (Otago), Nikora Broughton (Bay of Plenty), Daniel Lienert-Brown (Canterbury), Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury), Ethan De Groot (Southland), Oliver Haig (Otago), Billy Harmon (Canterbury) , Max Hicks (Tasman), Fabian Holland (Otago), Luca Inch (Tasman), Ricky Jackson (Otago), Ayden Johnstone (Waikato), Saula Ma’u (Otago), Hayden Michaels (Southland), Pari Pari Parkinson (Tasman), Hugh Renton (Tasman), Tom Sanders (Otago) , Jack Taylor (Southland), Will Tucker (Otago), Sean Withy (Otago)




Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby

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