Rebels utility forward Lopeti Timani has extended his stay with the Melbourne-based franchise by signing a new two-year contract.
Timani, who scored the opening try of the Super Rugby season when he started in the second row against the Crusaders last Friday, had a frustrating 2014 with niggling injuries limiting him to just two Super Rugby appearances.
However, after a impressive National Rugby Championship (NRC) campaign at number eight, and having worked over the pre-season to provide an option at lock as well, Timani has been rewarded for his patience and his desire to improve.
Rebels’ head coach Tony McGahan believes there is plenty to come from the younger brother of former Wallaby second-row italeki Timani.
“Lopeti is somebody that all of us at the Club are excited about,” McGahan told the Melbourne Rebels' official website.
“He brings great physicality to everything he does, and is determined to seek improvement in his game and capitalise on his ability.
“By working hard on his game and adapting to a number of different positions in our forward pack, Lopeti has ensured we see him as a major part of our future. If he continues to focus on continual improvement and work hard, then there is no limit to what he can do.”
For Lopeti, after a frustrating first season in Melbourne, the NRC restored his confidence and he is looking forward to spending more time in Melbourne regardless of what number is on the back of his jersey!
“It’s really exciting, and I am just so happy to stay in Melbourne for the next two years,” he said.
“I am having a great time at Rebels and in Melbourne, so I know I’m going to enjoy it. All the boys here are good mates, and I’m really enjoying my time playing with them.
“The NRC was really good for me, as I just really wanted to play some Rugby, and it was a good opportunity to prepare for this year’s Super Rugby season. I am happy to play any position; I’d play front row if I had to, I just want to be out on the field having a crack!”
Timani himself admits that when he first moved to Melbourne in 2014, he was planning to head overseas to continue his rugby at the end of his contract.
“My first year felt like a waste of time because I kept getting injured and couldn’t find consistency in my game,” he added.
“However when Tony and (General Manager of Rugby Operations) Baden Stephenson spoke to me about staying and showed faith in me, it made me want to stay here and stand up and be counted for.”
Timani will renew forces with his former franchise when the Rebels host the Waratahs this coming Friday at AAMI Park in Melbourne.