Mid season break heralds new signings at the RaboDirect Rebels

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By Rebels Media Unit

RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels' Chairman, Harold Mitchell AM, would like to make a series of announcements regarding new player signings and football department appointments.

Luke Burgess says Au Revoir to France to be a Rebel again

37 Test Wallaby, Luke Burgess, is returning to the city that really kick started his professional rugby career. Burgess was identified by Rod Macqueen as the perfect young half back for the original Melbourne Rebels, who were runners up in the short lived Australian Rugby Championship (ARC) in 2007. In fact, Burgess scored the Rebels' first ever try, when the Rebels won their first game in Round One of the ARC.

Burgess, who has played for legendary European club Toulouse in the French Top 14 for the past two seasons, has signed a three year contract with the Rebels from 2014, and is expected to return to Australia at the end of the French season in May. The timing will see the half back return home in time to be considered for selection in the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour in June.

Commenting on the signing, Harold Mitchell said, "the Club is thrilled that Luke is returning to Australia and has chosen to play in a Rebels jersey for the next three years. Luke has maintained a connection with Melbourne since his time here six years ago and he, his wife Emily, and his young family are excited about coming back to our wonderful city."

RaboDirect Rebels Head Coach, Damien Hill, said "Luke brings to the team a wealth of experience, having recently tasted success with Toulouse winning the Top 14.

"With the departure of Nick Phipps the Club needed a quality replacement. Luke will obviously provide this, along with the very promising Nic Stirzaker."

Speaking from Toulouse, Burgess said, "sometimes in life things are just meant to happen and I suppose I had always hoped that Rugby would bring me back to Melbourne one day. Now it has, and I can't wait to pull on the Rebels colours again.

The 2006 Rebels was one of the happiest rugby experiences of my career. My time in France has been great, but for me and the family it is time to come home. Super Rugby suits my playing style and so does the way the Rebels play. So I know that we are going to do some very good things together."

Sam Cordingley appointed to the new role of General Manager, Rugby

Foundation RaboDirect Rebels player, Sam Cordingley, has been appointed to a newly created role of Melbourne Rebels, General Manager, Rugby.

Cordingley, who has been with the Rebels since their first season in 2011, has been Retention and Recruitment Manager since 2012. The former Wallaby half back has also been part of the Rebel Rising and Elite Pathway programs.

In his new role, Cordingley will have responsibility for the Rebels' football department, as well as maintaining his current responsibilities for retention and recruitment. Cordingley, who currently resides in Brisbane, will take up his new role immediately.

RaboDirect Rebels' Head Coach role open for 2014

The board of the RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels has elected to undergo a process for the appointment of the Club's Head Coach for 2014 and beyond. Head Coach Damien Hill's two year contract finishes at the end of this season.

Melbourne Rebels CEO, Steven Boland said, "Damien has been advised of the board's decision that his current contract will not be automatically extended. Damien has also been advised that the board would welcome his application for the coaching role in 2014 and has indicated at this point in time he intends to do so.

"The board will now undergo a process, which will include a specially convened coaching selection panel. The Rebels welcome applications from Australia and internationally. Further details related to the process will be released in due course."

RaboDirect Rebels' CEO Steven Boland to depart 

Steven Boland, who joined the Club as Deputy CEO in 2010 and took over the CEO role in 2011, has advised the board that he will leave the Club in May.

Commenting on his decision, Boland said "this was not an easy decision. The Rebels are now a part of my DNA. The opportunity to lead this Club has been a privilege. I came to Melbourne as a born and bred Sydney person to play my role in setting up the city's first Super Rugby team. My family are lovers of Melbourne and part of a growing and exciting Victorian rugby family.

"While the timing for the Club and I is not ideal, the job opportunity I have accepted is one that I could not pass up. Typical of the people that make up the Rebels, my decision to leave has been understood by our Chairman and the board. We have a saying here, 'once a Rebel, always a Rebel'. I am staying in Melbourne and will continue to contribute to the Rebels and Victorian Rugby as a volunteer."

RaboDirect Rebels Chairman, Harold Mitchell, said, "Steven Boland will leave our Club, but only as an employee. In every other way, Steve will still be a Rebel. On behalf of the board, the team, our staff and Club members I want to thank Steve for his dedication, his total commitment to the role and his passion for the Rebel cause."

Following Steven Boland's departure in May, the CEO will be an interim. The board will undertake an extensive search process and appoint a new CEO before the start of the 2014 season.