RaboDirect Rebels announce 2014 Leadership Group
RaboDirect Rebels Head Coach Tony McGahan has announced a new look, five man leadership group to drive the Rebels Super Rugby program in 2014.
Scott Higginbotham was named as Captain in December, and will be supported in the leadership group by Foundation Rebels Hugh Pyle and Laurie Weeks, as well as young gun Tom English and backrower Scott Fuglistaller.
“The Club are very fortunate to have these driven individuals,” McGahan said. “They will provide a clear direction and support for the playing group, both on and off the field, during the season.”
Pyle is the second-most capped current Rebel, and is on target to notch a half century of appearances in the 5 Stars against the Highlanders in Round 8. A towering lock, he carries great lineout responsibility and also has a great eye for a try. A vice captain for the past two seasons, Hugh has worked hard in the pre-season to impress McGahan with his training standards and is primed for a quality year in the Rebels’ forward pack.
“We’re extremely lucky with the playing group at the moment in that everyone is on the same page,” Pyle said. “This makes it extremely easy to lead as we just have to keep everyone on the same path they’re already on. The importance of the leadership group will show during the season, through how we respond to possible disappointments or rewards as a playing group. The five of us in the leadership group have all played together for a while, and I think we understand each others strengths and weaknesses; we aren’t afraid of being open with each other and expressing our opinions.”
English’s first season of Super Rugby featured no shortage of highlights, including two tries in the Club’s first ever victory over the Waratahs. A former Australian Rugby Sevens representative, English shows maturity beyond his years and will provide leadership for the young backline. Despite only having played Super Rugby nine times, there are plenty of signs to suggest that the former Waverley College student is primed for a long and successful career. His elevation to the leadership group represents a great opportunity for Tom to further develop his Rugby and input into the Rebels program.
“Personally, to be in the leadership group in only my second year is quite a special thing,” he said. “I think the importance of the leadership group should not be underestimated, however the whole team is buying into the ideals brought in by Tony and not just the leadership group. It is the role of the leadership group to maintain these core values and provide standards that encourage everyone to constantly better each other.”
Fuglistaller’s elevation comes off the back of an outstanding maiden campaign for the Club. The flanker made the most tackles of any player in the Australian conference, and was awarded the Club’s ‘Spirit of Weary Dunlop’ gong at the end of season awards night. A tenacious warrior on the Rugby field, Scott’s dedication to the game and constant pursuit of excellence are a shining example to all at the Club; he leads by example, both on and off the field.
Weeks joined the Club from the Queensland Reds in 2011, and has played 39 matches for the Rebels. Hugely popular within the team and also externally, where he thrills fans on social media and is the ambassador for the Club’s Little Rebels membership program, his elevation into the leadership group is reflective of the hard work he has put in throughout this tough pre-season. Weeks played every game in 2013, and forms part of the Club’s new-look front row following the recruitment of Max Lahiff and Toby Smith.
Higginbotham made a lasting impression in his first season at the Club, and despite a new coaching staff taking over the reins for 2014, there was little doubt that Scott was the front-runner for the captaincy. His commitment to improve throughout pre-season, following on from hip and shoulder surgery, helped cement the 23-time capped Wallaby the captaincy for the upcoming season. He has led with a ‘follow me’ attitude in the Club’s undefeated pre-season campaign, and Higginbotham will be able to rely on the four other members of the leadership group for significant support this year.
The Weary Dunlop Lunch, proudly presented by RaboDirect, also announced the Rebels 2014 squad, as well as offically welcoming Rugby Union to Melbourne for the 2014 Astron Life Super Rugby Season.