Tamati Ellison to remain a Rebel for two more seasons

Getty Images     28 Jun 2014     Getty Images

Ellison, who has four caps for the All Blacks, joined the Club in 2014 after nearly 80 appearances with the Blues, Hurricanes and Highlanders in his native New Zealand.

The aggressive midfielder, capable of playing either inside or outside centre, scored his first try for the Club in the Round Thirteen defeat to the Hurricanes at AAMI Park. He has formed a dangerous combination with Mitch Inman in the Rebels' midfield this season, impressing all with his stoic defence and ferocious determination with the ball in hand.

Tamati had options to return to New Zealand, however his young family have settled well into life in Melbourne and he was keen to continue his association with the Club, where he is the second-oldest player on the list. His experience will be vital as the Club continues to blood exciting young backline talent.

"It was tough deciding what to do; I was lucky enough to have options back in New Zealand to consider, and with my family missing home a wee bit I had to consider that," Ellison admitted. "At the same time, I've really enjoyed my time here.

"We love Melbourne. My family and I have been fortunate enough to be associated with some great teams in the past; we love it in New Zealand, in Japan but also here. This year's gone a bit too quickly, but we're keen to spend more time here."

Ellison has worked with some of New Zealand's best Rugby coaches, however he rates Rebels' mentor Tony McGahan as one of the best he has been involved with.

"I really enjoy the coaching here in Melbourne; for where I am in my career and what I want to achieve, I think this is the best place to do so. I have spoken to a lot of players, not just Rebels guys, about Tony; I talked to Stephen Moore about him, and he rates him a lot.

"People understand that Tony is a great coach, and for me learning new techniques and a different approach to the game at this stage in my career has been really fresh to me and has really inspired me to keep pushing and improve my own game. For the last couple of years, I haven't had that, so it has been great."

McGahan himself is thrilled to see Tamati staying with the Rebels program for a further two seasons, lauding the impact he has already had on the young group assembled to take the Rebels into the future.

"For us to have Tamati here this year has been absolutely fantastic for the playing group, for the coaches, and certainly for the Club," McGahan said. "He has been a great addition of experience into a young backline, in terms of standards and expectations. For him to re-commit for another two years is absolutely fabulous news for the whole Club; coaches, members and the whole playing group, but particularly the backs. I'm delighted that he sees his future in Melbourne."

Ellison had to turn down a potential return to the All Blacks ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, with their policy mirroring Australia and ruling players plying their trade abroad as ineligible for selection, however McGahan was not surprised to see Tamati extend his contract.

"If you have seen his commentary over the year, he is extremely happy here with the program and the playing group," McGahan said. "He is a very considered player and a big thinker about Rugby, so he wanted to think about the best opportunity for himself and his family and we expected that."

McGahan is looking forward to watching Tamati continue to lead the way both on and off the field over the next two seasons.

"The way that Tamati carries himself in and away from the program is his most impressive attribute," McGahan said. "He is the first player in each morning, looking to improve something in regards to his game whether it is on video or something physical. That commitment rubs off on the other players, with regards to his preparation and the way he knows his teammates and their capabilities.

"He shows them how to improve as a player, and how to continue to care about improving as a player. As a young group and Club, we are still trying to find and look for reference points and certainly Tamati provides plenty of those for us.Like any good player, Tamati's timing, understanding and decision making are his key assets. He certainly brings a high skill level, and all good players have that, but I think these key areas help him turn that skill into something really worthwhile at the right time. He is certainly valued, and has added a lot to our group so far."