Rebels hooker James Hanson is staying with UK side Gloucester for the rest of the season, released from his Melbourne contract.
Hanson signed a one-year contract with the Rebels earlier this year, before taking up a short-term contract with Premiership side Gloucester at the start of the European season.
The 29-year-old looked set to be overtaken by rising rake Jordan Uelese, who made his Wallabies debut after just 28 minutes of Super Rugby, while former Force hooker Anaru Rangi has also joined the club, and is a highly-rated prospect
The Rebels confirmed on Thursday that Gloucester had asked to keep Hanson in the UK and the Melbourne franchise had agreed.
Hanson played 111 Super Rugby games across an eight-year career, that included the Rebels and the Reds, and had 12 Wallabies caps as well.
The hooker said the time felt right to look at an overseas option.
“Thank you to the Rebels staff, volunteers, members and fans who have had an positive influence on me during my stint with the club. Most of all thank the guys I played and trained alongside for making it a memorable few years," he said.
“After taking everything into consideration the opportunity to play overseas at this stage of my career was the best decision for myself and my wife.
“I wish the Rebels all the best for the future.”
Rebels professional rugby manager Nick Ryan praised Hanson for his impact on the club.
"We would like to acknowledge and thank James for his significant contribution to the Rebels and Victorian rugby, as an original Rebel in 2007, he will hold a significant place in the club’s history,” he said.
“James’ quality, experience and leadership will be a loss for Australian rugby but he will always be a member of the Rebels family and we wish him all the best for the next stage of his career with Gloucester.”
The Rebels open their Super Rugby season against the Reds on Friday February 23, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT. Tickets available at melbournerebels.com.