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Thread: The Vultures Start Circling

  1. #1
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    The Vultures Start Circling

    Ok, time to get brutal.
    While somewhat surprisingly given the history, I genuinely don't want to see Pro Rugby leave Melbourne.

    However, it is not looking good, so what prospects could be on the market by the end of this season and what is their future?

    Who would you want the Force to target?

    Who would you want the Force to stay away from?

    What connections are you aware of that might see a player elsewhere?

    Suggest in replying picking up the list below and pasting into your own post, unless obviously you are replying to someone else's post.

    2024 Melbourne Rebels Squad

    Front Row
    Matt Gibbon

    Cabous Eloff

    Isaac Kailea

    Alex Mafi

    Jordan Uelese

    Ethan Dobbins

    Pone Fa’amausili

    Sam Talakai

    Taniela Tupou

    Lock
    Josh Canham

    Luhkan Salakai-Loto

    Angelo Smith

    Tuaina Taii Tualima

    Back Row
    Vaiolini Ekuasi

    Zac Hough

    Josh Kemeny- Signed to Northampton Saints (England Premier League)

    Rob Leota

    Daniel Maiava

    Brad Wilkin

    Halves
    Ryan Louwrens

    Jack Maunder

    James Tuttle

    Carter Gordon

    Jake Strachan

    Mason Gordon

    Centres
    David Feliuai

    Lukas Ripley

    Matt Proctor

    Nick Jooste

    Lebron Naea

    Divad Palu

    David Vaihu

    Filipo Daugunu

    Back 3
    Lachie Anderson

    Andrew Kellaway- Signed to Waratahs

    Darby Lancaster

    Joe Pincus

    Glen Vaihu

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    2024 Melbourne Rebels Squad

    Front Row
    Matt Gibbon 28 and from NSW. Worth a look, given a brief taste of Wallaby gold may want to stay in Australia.

    Cabous Eloff At only 25, need to keep him in Australian Rugby to get eligibility. Fourth year in Australia. Worth pursuing given the SA connection.

    Isaac Kailea Melbourne origin. Likely would head offshore,

    Alex Mafi History at the Reds. If not returning maybe worth a look. Would be in demand overseas

    Jordan Uelese Melbourne developed (11 year old). With the sparsity of Hookers in Australia, he will be pursued strongly. Likely to the Tahs to replace Porecki

    Ethan Dobbins Queensland origin. Not much knowledge of Dobbins, but will bring interest as a Hooker. Likely to head offshore.

    Pone Fa’amausili Melbourne origin. Will bring strong demand Nationally and Internationally. You’d have to try for him, but maybe not throw the bank at it.

    Sam Talakai Started in NSW, then Reds, then Melbourne. Not afraid to travel, however, at then 33 may be heading offshore to build retirement package.

    Taniela Tupou Would need a sound 2024 without significant injury. Likely will be offered big money offshore which will be hard to turn down. Only the lure of WC redemption (or Lions) might hold him

    Lock
    Josh Canham Melbourne lad. By then 24 and a classic Lock (202cm, 115kg) with some decent pace, he will be in strong demand if he has a solid 2024. Depending on Rodda's fitness, would be a good target.

    Luhkan Salakai-Loto 40 Cap Wallaby who has returned to Australia to play again, he will be picked up by one of the 4. Would be a great get but perhaps too expensive.

    Angelo Smith A decent prospect, however, having played Fiji Under 20's already, he may see his future with Fiji/Drua/Europe.

    Tuaina Taii Tualima Born in Brisbane via Auckland, is at risk of falling into "journeyman" status. Needs a really big 2024, otherwise probably destined for Japan or USA.

    Back Row
    Vaiolini Ekuasi A good hard player, but most likely to return home over the ditch or head North.

    Zac Hough A bit of Pocock about him, suspect will get a lot of offshore interest but worth trying to keep in Australia

    Josh Kemeny- Signed to Northampton Saints (England Premier League)

    Rob Leota A born and bred Melbournite, he will create a feeding frenzy if coming onto the market. Has a Brumbies feel about him to me.

    Daniel Maiava The Victorian origin lad is a big lump. I think most likely offshore.

    Brad Wilkin His Under 20's teammate Kellaway has already committed to the Tahs, which may influence him to go "home", but I suspect he will be headed offshore.

    Halves
    Ryan Louwrens We have enough +30 year old Scrumhalves in Perth, but maybe a year as backup at the Brumbies. Otherwise he may head back Stateside after exposure through the defunct Gilgronis.

    Jack Maunder A handy player, but the Englishman will likely be heading home

    James Tuttle With IFL's Wallaby selection, I think Tuttle's time may have passed in Australia. Most likely to head offshore.

    Carter Gordon Despite some naysayers, assuming a solid 2024, Gordon will have strong appeal. The Brumbies probably have the least depth and his Larkham-esque characteristics would be attractive there.

    Jake Strachan One wonders, if Jake had known the final makeup of the Force 2024 Squad, if he would still have departed. I always felt he was underappreciated post matches and would happily see him return,

    Mason Gordon Still to step out from his brothers' shadow. Likely a contender for offshore interest.

    Centres
    David Feliuai With strong Samoan roots, he could be finding interest from Moana Pasifika. A good solid running Centre, should gain plenty of interest and would be worth a look.

    Lukas Ripley As per Feliuai, will likely head offshore.

    Matt Proctor At 32 would likely return to New Zealand for a couple years NPC.

    Nick Jooste Hard to believe Nick will be 27 next year. As a local, he may look to return, though would be as Fullback given the Squad we have long term signed. As likely to head offshore.

    Lebron Naea By then 21, the Melbourne Club developed prospect will be a more known package. If he has the opportunities to shine, or at least show glimpses, I think he will be hotly contested in Australia.

    Divad Palu Another Melbourne product, Divad has been selected in the current Under 20's Squad. Another solid lad, he should have strong competition for his signature in Australia.

    David Vaihu Possibly would head back to Queensland, but the hard running Centre who enjoyed some Under 20 success, will be courted by all 4 Franchises.

    Filipo Daugunu Having Capped for Australia, Daugunu might be up for a move West and would be an awesome sight out wide on our developing backline. He will have no shortage of interest from around the world

    Back 3
    Lachie Anderson A good big Winger with Aus 7's pedigree, the Force would surely be interested, though probably competition for his home Tahs and offshore.

    Andrew Kellaway- Signed to Waratahs One wonders if any other than the Tahs got a heads up. Unless some residual bad blood with Donaldson over Test selection, surely the would have been some attraction to head West.

    Darby Lancaster Another Aus 7's alumni like Anderson, just five years younger. Having had a taste of the West Coast at the recent Perth SVNS, we may have some appeal, though may also want to go back on the circuit following Paris

    Joe Pincus Another with 7's credentials, would be either Anderson or Pinkus, not both. Six years older than Lancaster, would be unlikely to go back to 7's but would have plenty of offshore options

    Glen Vaihu As with Mason Gordon, may be an opportunity to step out from older brother (David) shadow. A handy player, maybe not yet a hot prospect.

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    Dammit Burgs, you've done me...

    I had full intentions of writing an extended treatise on all the players I'd chase and why...

    Instead I'll do this

    The Force are light in
    The entire front row

    Locks

    Outside backs (specifically experienced fullbacks)

    And have plenty of
    Scrum halves (looking mainly at potential rather than numbers)

    Inside backs (including a number who can play fullback)

    So that being said I'd look at
    Eloff
    Gibbon
    Mafi (got a lot of time for this bloke, I think he's seriously underrated)
    Canham (I think he might be on the verge of something remarkable)
    Ekuasi (you can't have too many big, bruising backrowers can you?)
    Gordon (you don't want anybody else to have him do you?)
    Lancaster

    And probably avoid
    Tupou (WF is likely the only Australian team that can afford the price, but I'm no longer confident that the juice is worth the squeeze)
    Leota (the hype will be massive, but there's better value elsewhere and we're not short)

    I think that's it

    Daugunus not a centre, I'd likely give him a call about returning to the wing, but if we got Lancaster we might be happy without him
    Jooste and Strachan struggled for game time and moved on. Whether they are worth a shout depends on why they moved in the first place.

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    I guess I should add the proviso that I reckon Ra could set up their own Melbourne team and run it responsibly having first pick of the contracted players.

    That would get them out of the tv deal and they could assess the viability of continuing in Melbourne based upon actual fact not snake oil salesmen talking up a disaster that only serves to put money in their offshore bank accounts.

    If they give it a go for a year with a sustainable staff they will be able to see whether the public will support it enough to find it and give themselves another year to find an organisation to take up the license.

    It would surely cost less than the penalties they'd pay for having fewer teams or setting up a squad in a completely new location.

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Yes it is a bit early and we have some promising prospects to assess.but...

    1. Eloff. Didn't realise he was so young, especially for a prop. Doesn't look like an athlete but he's reasonably mobile, a good carrier and an ok scrummager.

    2. Salakaia Loto

    3. Carter Gordon

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burgs View Post
    ...
    Taniela Tupou Would need a sound 2024 without significant injury. Likely will be offered big money offshore which will be hard to turn down. Only the lure of WC redemption (or Lions) might hold him
    ...
    Originally from Sydney Daily Telegraph, but that's paywall.

    Leinster linked with the ‘Tongan Thor’ Taniela Tupou as Wallabies star contemplates lucrative switch

    Story by Rúaidhrí O'Connor Irish Independent

    Leinster could be set to swoop for one of the most powerful tighthead props in the game in a bid to further strengthen a pack that will already feature RG Snyman next season.

    Wallaby Taniela Tupou is considering an offer that is reported by The Daily Telegraph in Australia to be worth more than €550,000 to join the Irish province in a move that would come as a major blow to their old coach Joe Schmidt if it goes through.

    The 27-year-old, nicknamed the Tongan Thor, is contracted with the Melbourne Rebels until the end of the 2025 season and would be a key part of Schmidt's plans, but the franchise's future is uncertain amidst financial struggles.

    So, Leinster are preparing an offer to bring him to Dublin to replace Michael Ala'alatoa who leaves for Clermont Auvergne at the end of this season.
    The province have tried to bring in Finlay Bealham and Tom O'Toole from Connacht and Ulster respectively, but both players knocked back the proposal.

    So, they're on the hunt internationally and have identified the 135kg prop as a player who could make a difference.

    Senior coach Jacques Nienaber was also tight-lipped on media reports linking the province with Tupou.

    However, he did concede that Leinster are in the market for a replacement in that position, given the imminent departure of Ala’alatoa.

    “Michael has been a standout guy, a rock for us in the scrum and to get somebody in his place is something that will be looked at but I won’t step on anyone else’s toes regarding that one,” he said.

    “I’m sure they will work endlessly behind the scenes to get the right guy to replace Michael because he has been very important for us.”

    Report: Leinster Attempting To Lure 135kg Wallabies Star To Dublin

    Jonathan Browne
    balls.ie


    Reports coming out of Australia this morning suggest that Leinster have made a play to sign Australian International tighthead prop Taniela Tupou for next season. The Wallaby has made over 50 caps for his nation since debuting in 2017 and is one of the country's most popular stars.

    Tupou is currently contracted to the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby Pacific, having just joined them for the new season which started last month. However the Rebels are in serious financial problems. In January they were placed into voluntary administration after reporting an over $20 million AUD debt to its creditors, including an $11.6 million AUD tax bill.

    Rugby Australia vowed to support the Rebels for the 2024 season, but it is still unclear what the future holds beyond that for the Rebels. Tupou's deal is up until the end of 2025, but if the Rebels were to fold he is free to join any team he wants.

    Leinster are in the market for a tighthead prop as Michael Ala'alatoa is leaving this summer to move to Clermont. With Thomas Clarkson and a young Paddy McCarthy as the only cover behind Tadhg Furlong, Leinster are looking to add depth to that department.

    In a report from the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, they said Leinster have offered Tupou over €500,00 to bring him to Dublin. With the departure of Jason Jenkins as well as Ala'alatoa Leinster have another NIQ spot open for Taniela Tupou to join Leinster.

    For those unfamiliar with Tupou, he's an explosive 135kg prop who loves nothing more than to bulldoze over opponents. He's been hampered by injuries over the past couple of years but when he's at his best, there's not many in the world better.

    Leinster have already announced the signing of RG Snyman for this summer and if they can pull this move off too it will be a very exciting season ahead for the boys in blue.

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    TBH, always felt like he was only marking time...

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    Who ever gets him will be using him to warm the bench more than he plays! He can’t take the schedule here. In Europe he will have near twice as many games and I doubt his body will take it. IMO.

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    Tupou is a good player as an overseas pick. If he isn't fit, is injured, or doesn't have the right attitude, you can roll onto the next player and you don't shake your head at the million a season you'd pay him otherwise.

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    Rugby Australia meets with Rebels players to discuss options if Super Rugby franchise is culled

    Christy Doran, The Roar
    23/05/2024


    As Rugby Australia crawls towards deciding on whether to hand back the Super Rugby license to the Melbourne Rebels, the governing body has begun discussing potential new homes with the playing group should the franchise be culled.

    The Roar can reveal RA officials met with the Rebels playing group and high performance staff on Monday and Tuesday to discuss their future.

    While no answer to whether the Rebels would exist beyond 2024 was forthcoming, RA officials, including new director of high performance Peter Horne, held individual meetings with players to determine alternate options beyond life in Melbourne.

    Players were quizzed about where they would prefer to live and play.

    It’s believed the idea of the meetings was to give RA some insight into the individual needs of each player, including Horne who is still getting to grips with the playing stocks across Australian rugby after shifting from World Rugby earlier this year.

    Yet, even if a player has an intended target destination, it’s unlikely every player’s needs will be catered for.

    After all, it’s still unclear whether the salary cap would be increased for 2025 should the Rebels fail to get their license back.

    The situation has naturally left many furious, including Rebels head coach Kevin Foote, who said throughout the week he had been left “p—-d off” that rival coaches were ready to pounce on the franchise’s carcass.

    “We’ve got guys who are on contract for next year,” Foote told the 8-9 Combo Rugby podcast.

    “Those players are guaranteed for next year but that’s not to say they’re not under stress because they don’t know where that’s going to be.

    “But then we have this other group of players who don’t have a contract next year. Now, some of those guys, they were right down the line with us negotiation-wise. Even some of them were with Rugby Australia waiting to get signed off. Those players now don’t have anything.

    “So every dropped ball in training or any mistake on the field gets blown out of proportion.”

    Kevin Foote was left disappointed rivals were hatching plans to pounce on the Rebels playing cohort before a decision was made on their future.

    It comes after RA chief executive Phil Waugh last month told The Roar that the governing body was intent on making a decision sooner rather than later on the Rebels’ future to ensure the best players remained in the country.

    “That’s a concern,” he said. “If we’re going to be competitive in 2025 we need to ensure that we have a good roster, so that’s important.”

    The meetings occurred as the competition approaches the penultimate round, with the Rebels on track to make their maiden finals campaign.

    They also occurred 24 hours after former director Georgia Widdup addressed the Rebels on Sunday and said private investors remained ready to back the franchise’s future.

    It’s understood RA was recently provided a 100-page document providing further details about the private consortium, which is promising to throw in $30 million to ensure the Rebels continue.

    With the ball back in court, it’s understood a decision on whether RA will back the Rebels’ proposal will be made over the next fortnight.

    In the meantime, the playing group remains frustrated by the state of limbo they’ve existed in ever since the Super Rugby franchise fell into voluntary administration at the end of January after racking up $22m of debt.

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    Looking to 2025

    Props: Not too many gaps if the Force can get all four off players contract rolled over.
    Tom Robertson 2025
    Charlie Hancock 2025
    Marley Pearce 2025
    Harry Hoopert 2025

    I think they’d do well to keep all of;
    Angus Wagner 2024
    Santiago Medrano 2024
    Atu Moli 2024
    Siosifa Amone 2024

    Rebels that might fit:
    Matt Gibbon 28.
    Cabous Eloff I reckon his work (apparent) work ethic might appeal to the coaching staff, I am not sure if it is just that the commentators love the sound of his surname but he is constantly getting recognised for tackles and carries. Certainly looks to have a bloody big ticker.
    Pone Fa’amausili Agree with Burgs “You’d have to try for him”

    Hookers: I think with these three signed the Force are well set.
    Tom Horton 2025
    Brandon Paega-Amosa 2025 (and beyond)
    Nick Dolly 2025 (and beyond)

    Force off contract: I could see perhaps one of these lads being resigned.
    Feleti Kaitu'u 2024
    Ben Funnel 2024

    Locks
    Felix Kalapu 2025
    Darcy Swain 2026

    I think they’d do well to keep all of;
    Izack Rodda 2024
    Jeremy Williams 2024
    Lopeti Faifua 2024
    Tom Franklin 2024 VALUABLE RUGBY IQ
    Sam Carter 2024 VALUABLE RUGBY IQ

    Rebels that might fit:
    Josh Canham I think he’d be a key target – Cron talks a lot about big bodies and if the Force are to take it to the likes of the Blues, Chiefs, and Canes next season Canham would tick that box.
    Luhkan Salakai-Loto I think he’d be worth the money.

    Back Rowers
    Carlo Tizzano 2025
    Will Harris 2025
    Felix Kalapu 2025 this seems a more logical spot for Felix
    Jeremy Williams 2024 If they get more big units for Lock.

    I think they’d do well to keep all of;
    Tim Anstee 2024
    Ollie Callan 2024
    Michael Wells 2024 VALUABLE RUGBY IQ
    Papillon Sevelle 2024

    Rebels that might fit:
    Rob Leota – would be a real coup
    Zac Hough agree with Burgs, improving nicely

    Scrumhalf
    Isaak Fines-Leleiwasa 2025
    Nick White 2025

    I think they’d do well to keep;
    Henry Robertson

    Rebels that might fit:
    Ryan Louwrens (short term contract perhaps)
    James Tuttle (short term contract perhaps)

    Flyhalf
    Ben Donaldson 2025
    Reesjan Pasitoa 2025

    Haven’t seen anything of;
    Nikolai Foliaki 2024
    Cambell Parata 2024

    Rebels that might fit:
    CG would cause too much congestion at the top.

    Centres, Wings and Fullbacks
    Bailey Kuenzle 2025
    Harry Potter 2025
    Max Burey 2025
    George Pooolman 2025

    I think they’d do well to keep all of;
    Hamish Stewart 2024
    Henry O'Donnell 2024
    Chase Tiatia 2024 VALUABLE RUGBY IQ/ social glue between the blocks
    Kurtley Beale 2024 VALUABLE RUGBY IQ
    Ronan Leahy 2024

    Rebels that might fit:
    Filipo Daugunu – would be a big signature
    Lachie Anderson
    Nick Jooste – WA Credentials

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    This process will continue in the coming weeks, as RA engages with RUPA, players and other Super Rugby clubs regarding options for player movement. RA will communicate further details regarding this process in due course.

    Game on b#tches!

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    The other aspect, now for consideration-

    Nick Stiles- General Manager

    Kevin Foote- Head Coach

    Tim Sampson- Senior Assistant Coach (Attack)

    Geoff Parling- Assistant Coach (Forwards)

    Brad Harris- Assistant Coach (Defence)

    Rob Taylor- Assistant Coach (Elite Pathways)

    I don't know if the Eastern Suburbs would allow it, but on paper and given their performance this year with an equally over budget Squad, you could see a transition as a team to the Tahs Box.

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    There's definitely be a strong case for that - they've built some good momentum

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    Discussion on Rugby Wrap and elsewhere about a move towards Coaching Teams moving together, rather than Head Coaches appointed and then assembling individuals.
    I think it has merit, but on a horses for courses basis.
    You may see good Coaches fall through the cracks because of relationships, or the lack thereof.

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