The Melbourne Rebels have finalised their squad for the 2017 Super Rugby season with the prized signature of promising New Zealand fly-half Jackson Garden-Bachop.
The 22-year-old playmaker, son of former All Black Stephen Bachop, and nephew of Graeme Bachop, has put pen to paper on his first Super Rugby contract – a two-year deal with the Melbourne club.
“I’m excited to sign my first Super Rugby contract, it’s been a goal of mine for the last four of years since I left school to take the next step so I’m very happy that Melbourne has given me the opportunity,” Garden-Bachop told the Rebels' official website.
“I’m definitely ready to give Super Rugby a crack, train full-time and learn from some really good players and top quality coaches so I’m focused on getting to Melbourne and putting in some good work with the Rebels.”
Garden-Bachop made 11 appearances and scored two tries for the Wellington Lions in the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup on the way to being named the 2016 Lions Supporters Club player of the season.
The versatile fly-half, who’s also capable of playing at inside centre and full-back, etched his name in Wellington’s record books when he slotted seven penalties to down North Harbour and made himself a fan favourite when he kicked a 45-metre penalty after full-time to beat Counties Manukau and win the inaugural Jonah Lomu Memorial Trophy earlier this season.
The Wellington junior and Hurricanes product is a former New Zealand Schoolboy in 2012 and New Zealand U20s representative in 2014.
Garden-Bachop joined an illustrious group of winners, include Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga and Julian Savea, when he was named Wellington College Sport’s Rugby Player of the Year in 2012.
“We have been watching Jackson for some time and we have been very impressed with his temperament, consistency of core skills and hunger to compete,” said Melbourne Rebels head coach Tony McGahan.
Garden-Bachop’s signing continues the club’s ability to recruit quality New Zealand talent. In recent years this has included Tamati Ellison, Adam Thomson, Scott Fuglistaller, Pat Leafa, Jason Woodward and Toby Smith.
2017 Melbourne Rebels Squad:
Cruze Ah-Nau, Steve Cummins, Dominic Day (Toyota Verblitz, JAP), Jack Debreczeni, Tom English, Colby Fainga’a, Pama Fou (Australian Sevens), Harley Fox, Jackson Garden-Bachop (Wellington Lions, NZ), James Hanson, Reece Hodge, Mitch Inman, Sam Jeffries, Marika Koroibete (Melbourne Storm, NRL), Pat Leafa, Rob Leota, Tyrel Lomax (Tuggeranong, ACT), Jack McGregor (Gordon, NSW), Sean McMahon, Jack Maddocks (Easts, NSW), Amanaki Mafi (NTT Communications, JAP), Ben Meehan, Tim Metcher, Tom Moloney, Sefa Naivalu, Jonah Placid, Jordy Reid, Culum Retallick, Dominic Shipperley, Siliva Siliva, Toby Smith, Mick Snowden, Nic Stirzaker, Lopeti Timani, Alex Toolis (Edinburgh, UK), Sione Tuipulotu, Jordan Uelese (Melbourne Uni, VIC) Laurie Weeks