Japan hooker extends Rebels deal

02nd Jul 2014, 07:17


Staying in Melbourne: Shota Horie

Staying in Melbourne: Shota Horie

Japanese international hooker Shota Horie has agreed to fresh terms with the Rebels, signing a new one-year contract.

Japanese international hooker Shota Horie has agreed to fresh terms with the Rebels, signing a new one-year contract.

Horie, who was the first Japanese player to feature for an Australian Super Rugby team, joined the team for the 2013 season and will suit up for a third year in Melbourne.

28-year-old Shota has 32 caps and six tries for Japan, and will be aiming to play in his second Rugby World Cup in England in 2015.

He has played seventeen times for the Rebels since moving to Melbourne, making ten appearances in 2014 and scoring his first try for the side in the bonus point loss against the two-time defending champion Chiefs in Hamilton.

Horie was pleased to see his stint in Super Rugby extended into a third season, and is looking forward to again challenging himself in the world's most competitive provincial Rugby competition.

"I'm very happy to stay here in Melbourne," said Horie.

"One month ago, we had a baby (Yoshino) and I had to decide whether to stay in Melbourne for another year or go back to Japan. My wife Yukari told me that if I want to stay as a Rebel, we can do that; the baby will be fine here.

"Super Rugby is a very difficult competition, and this year we haven't won enough games. I want to win more Super Rugby games at the Rebels, and I want more Super Rugby game time."

Rebels' Head Coach Tony McGahan admits that he was in the dark a little regarding Shota's abilities before seeing him firsthand in February of this season.

"I didn't really know a lot about Shota coming into the program," McGahan said.

"He started pre-season late after returning from Japan, and with him having limited playing time last season my knowledge wasn't great in regards to him.

"However we were really impressed with his condition when he came back from Japan in February; he was fit, keen and eager, and a really good student of the game. Shota continued to work hard while adjusting to a new program which had changed a fair bit from the previous year, and then when the opportunity presented itself he was good enough to take it and actually had a really big influence on games; that's been fantastic from our perspective."

That respect is mutual; Horie admits McGahan has challenged him, but that he has improved as a result.

"Dumper (McGahan) is very hard on me, but I am learning a lot," Horie said. "Particularly at the breakdown and the contact area, the coach has been very good for me, and I am happy to keep working with him."