Roach and Wilkin get a fresh start with Rebels

Photos: Serge Gonzalez / AJF Photography

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The Melbourne Rebels have announced a double signing, with former Waratahs Hugh Roach and Brad Wilkin heading to Victoria for the 2019 Super Rugby season.

CEO Baden Stephenson is delighted with the acquisitions.

“Our 2019 playing roster is taking shape, and we’re really pleased to complement our stocks of local talent and proven Wallabies with the injection of young quality people and players like Hugh and Brad. We narrowly missed out on the finals this year, and that has really driven a thorough review process which will see us be better in every aspect in 2019.”

For Roach, it is a chance to reignite his professional career after precious little game time with the Tahs over the last couple of seasons. Still only 26-years-old, the hooker burst onto the scene in his late teens when he gained 11 caps for the Australian Schoolboys side and represented the Aussie Under 20’s team. A stellar first season of Shute Shield rugby with Eastwood earned him the Rookie of the Year award, and he was a pivotal part of the Woodies back-to-back Premiership winning teams of 2014-15.

He debuted for the Waratahs in 2014 as they went on to lift the Super Rugby title, and went on to represent his home state on 40 occasions, while also playing more matches for the now defunct Greater Sydney Rams across four seasons of the NRC.* But he can’t wait to get stuck into his new challenge.

“I’m rapt to be able to call Melbourne home next year. The Rebels are definitely a club on the rise and I want to add real value to the squad,” he explained.

“I feel like this new challenge is the right move for my career, and it will be a great test to join the young and abrasive pack the Rebels are building. I really want to cement my spot as a permanent member of the 23 and I really can’t wait to get started.”

Wilkin is another with an established pedigree as he came through the ranks, having also pulled on the Australian Schoolboys and Aussie Under 20’s jerseys between 2012-2015, as well as being capped for the Aussie Sevens team.

Just 22, the dynamic flanker has been forced to endure a horrific start to his fledgling professional career, with his time with New South Wales severely disrupted by two ACL injuries. But he fought his way back to finally make his Super Rugby debut earlier this year, before going on to play a crucial role in Sydney University’s first Shute Shield title in five seasons just three weeks ago.**

His reward for that courage and determination is another chance to shine at the next level with the Rebels, and to say he is pleased at the opportunity would be an understatement.

“I was stoked to make my Super Rugby debut this year and to win the Shute Shield with Sydney University,” he said. “I want to continue to improve and have huge aspirations of what I want to achieve in Rugby and I have heard great things about the program in Melbourne that makes me want to be a part of it.” 

“I’ve had a frustrating couple of years with injury, but I’ve got my body right and I really want to repay the faith the Rebels have put in me with my performances on the park for them over the next two years.”

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*To find out a little more about Roach, here’s an article from his time in the NRC last season with the now defunct Greater Sydney Rams.

**You can read about the arduous journey Wilkin and fellow injured Waratah Matt Sandell went on together, here.

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