Wales Test player Gareth Delve signs with Melbourne Rebels

By Wayne Smith
March 29, 2010 .

Wales loose forward Gareth Delve has become the first current international Test player to sign with the Melbourne Rebels.

The 11-Test Gloucester number eight played for Wales in the recent Six Nations and looked set for inclusion in the squad for next year's World Cup in New Zealand. Indeed, national head coach Warren Gatland told him as much.

"He indicated I would be in his plans and that it could be an exciting 18 months for me, which was good for him to say and which was what I had hoped," Delve said.

"But I weighed up the prospect of playing week in, week out against the best players in the world and just decided not to put too much store in a World Cup that is still a fair distance away."

Delve, the second overseas player after England five-eighth Danny Cipriani to sign with the Rebels, admitted he always had been just as fascinated about playing in the southern hemisphere's top tournament.

"The best teams in the world in recent years have been New Zealand, South Africa and Australia and the Super 15 is where they play. Until recently, it's always been a closed shop. So it's always been something that seemed out of reach," he said.

Delve said the chance to be a foundation member of the Rod Macqueen-coached team that will deliver professional rugby to the city also shaped his decision.