Rebels sign assault accused’s replacement
MELBOURNE Rebels have a ready-made replacement for departing backrowers Amanaki Maki and Lopeti Timani with Brumbies rising star Isi Naisarani joining the Super Rugby franchise.
The signing comes at the best possible time for the Rebels with the club grappling with Maki fronting court over an alleged assault on teammate Timani.
Naisarani, 23, had a breakout year with the Brumbies and will boost the Rebels' chances of making a maiden Super Rugby finals appearance in 2019.
"It's been a big two years for me. I'm really excited to get down to Melbourne and team up with Dave (Wessels, head coach) at the Rebels. He's had a big impact on me, and helping me to improve as a player," Naisarani said.
"It doesn't seem that long ago that I was playing for Brisbane City in the National Rugby Championship but I know that I have to keep on working hard to improve myself as a player."
The 23-year-old Fiji-born Naisarani is also in the sights of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, signing a one-year deal with Rugby Australia.
Former Wallabies flanker George Smith believes Naisarani has "fantastic potential" and would be a significant selection factor once he is eligible for the Wallabies in December.
"The World Cup in Japan is a big dream of mine and obviously to pull on that Gold jersey would be something very special," Naisarani said.
He will be eligible to play for Australia in April, putting him in line for a potential spot in next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.