Rebels hunting new playmaker

Date published: April 16 2014

Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan has admitted his desire to recruit an experienced playmaker from one of their Australian rivals.

Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan has admitted his desire to recruit an experienced playmaker from one of their Australian rivals.

Wallaby duo Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano, who both grew up in Melbourne, are both coming to the end of their contracts with the Brumbies and are believed to top the wishlist.

21-year-old Rugby League convert Bryce Hegarty has guided the Rebels attack this year and while McGahan believes he and scrum-half Nic Stirzaker could develop into excellent players, the opportunity bring in an experienced fly-half cannot be ignored.

Reds sharpshooter Mike Harris is also on the radar as an option to fill the void left by the departures of James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale last year.

''There's a number of players who are off contract this year around that midfield position who are going to be attractive to a lot of clubs, so we'll have to wait and see what occurs,'' McGahan told the Sydney Morning Herald

''We're certainly aware that [Toomua] is available, just like Christian Lealiifano, Mike Harris and other nines and 10s who are off contract, so we'll see where that leads us. We certainly understand [the need for] an experienced 10 to lead your side around, so I'm sure the Brumbies and everyone else will be interested.''

Meanwhile, the Rebels been handed a major boost with young gun Sean McMahon inking a new deal until at least the end of the 2016 season.

McMahon has been a revelation in his debut season, playing every game during his maiden Super Rugby campaign. .

The youngest ever Australian Rugby Sevens representative, McMahon stormed through pre-season training to earn a shock selection in the starting line-up for the team's first match of the season against the Cheetahs. A dominant performance in that match, currently the largest win in the Club's short history, resulted in McMahon being an ever-present in the matchday squad since, featuring in every match and starting in the majority.

McMahon has quickly settled into life in Melbourne, and alongside Rebels' captain Scott Higginbotham and leaders Scott Fuglistaller and Colby Fainga'a has established himself as a vital cog in one of the competition's most dominant back rows. Despite interest from elsewhere, McMahon never seriously considered leaving his new home.

“I don't deal with that side of things; I let my manager focus on that,” McMahon said.

“I just want to keep playing footy, here in Melbourne. It was always my first option; I want to put in to this Club, as they were the ones who gave me the opportunity.

“When I first came, I was just looking to be part of the squad and maybe get on to the bench, so to be able to play every game leaves me a little lost for words and now I just want to keep working hard to stay there. I love playing alongside guys like 'Higgers', Hugh Pyle and Scotty Fuglistaller; learning from them is the best thing that could have happened for me.”

McGahan was understandably pleased to see McMahon put pen to paper.

“Part of our growth and improvement as a club is developing quality young players and Sean is certainly that,” McGahan said. “Sean's introduction to professional Rugby at the Rebels has been impressive,” said McGahan.

“His ability to make his athletic presence felt, matched with his no-nonsense attitude, has made Sean a important member of the team now and going forward.”