The Melbourne Rebels have confirmed the signing of former Taranaki prop Ryan Cocker for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
The tight-head played three seasons for Taranaki in New Zealand’s ITM Cup competition and played a pivotal role for them when they won they won the 2014 title.
The 23-year-old was a member of the Chiefs development side for the past two seasons, but is yet to make his Super Rugby debut, which is why he will be relishing the opportunity with the Rebels.
Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Tony McGahan says Cocker has the potential to thrive at the Rebels franchise.
“We are delighted that Ryan will join the squad as we feel that he has the right skill set, work ethic and hungry attitude that fits very well with the Rebels program and culture,” said McGahan.
Newly appointed Melbourne Rebels Assistant Coach, Leo Crowley, previously worked with Cocker when he was the assistant coach at Taranaki and believes that he will add the needed spark to their 2016 Super Rugby campaign.
“Ryan has progressed really well in his three years with Taranaki,” said Crowley.
“He’s a dedicated young man who has been waiting for an opportunity, and he will grow as a player in Melbourne; I expect him to really add to our existing tight five group of players.
“Ryan’s strengths are his core roles around scrum and lineout. He is a very strong man in the gym, and his work ethic will enable the Rebels to grow his all round game.”
Cocker is excited about joining the Melbourne-based franchise and says he is grateful for the opportunity.
“I am very excited and grateful that I have the opportunity…I can’t wait to rip in,” he said.
“I have worked exceptionally hard at Taranaki, particularly over the last twelve months from a strength and conditioning perspective, and I’m pleased that work has paid off.”
The Taranaki prop says that the challenge off joining a new franchise is usually tough, but he however believes that Crowley will make the transition easier for him.
“Leo is a really good coach, and I’m sure he will have a great impact at the Rebels,” he said.
“I am looking forward to getting across to Melbourne, seeing Leo and meeting everybody else including my new teammates.
“I have had numerous conservations with Tony McGahan and Baden Stephenson while I’ve been working away in the ITM Cup, and they sound really genuine. I’m looking forward to joining the Club and working with such a top-notch coaching staff.”