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With the addition of three new players, the RaboDirect Rebels have finalised their EPS (extended playing squad) for the 2014 season. Jack Debreczeni, Ben Meehan and Sean McMahon will join current Rebels EPS players Pat Leafa and Cruze Ah-Nau at the commencement of 2014 pre-season in mid-October.
General Manager of Rugby, Sam Cordingley, said the signings highlighted the success of the Rebels' development program, which has seen similar players become accomplished Super Rugby talent.
"In our short time as a Club, the Rebels Extended Playing Squad has proved to be a very successful development program, which has been recognised nationally. Eight out of 12 of our EPS players have graduated to full time Super Rugby Contracts since the Rebels' inception."
20 year old Jack Debreczeni is touted as one of the most promising flyhalves in local Rugby, and moves to Melbourne after an outstanding season with West Harbour in the Shute Shield. With interest from multiple codes, Debreczeni also represented Australia in the under 20s at this year's IRB Junior World Cup in France.
Ben Meehan joins the Rebels from Reds Rugby College and was a member of the squad who played against Junior Japan in this year's IRB Pacific Cup. Meehan will arrive to familiar surroundings, with the 20 year old having also spent time with the Melbourne Storm in their Under 20s program.
Back row forward Sean McMahon starred for the Australian Schoolboys in 2011, defeating New Zealand 26-19, before signing a two year contract with the Australian Sevens. He was the youngest ever Australian Sevens representative when he debuted at the inaugural Gold Coast Sevens later that season.
Jack, Ben and Sean will join current EPS players Pat Leafa and Cruze Ah-Nau, who both gained their first Cap with the Rebels in their debut seasons.
Pat Leafa joined the Rebels at the end of 2012 after an outstanding season playing club rugby in Canberra at the Tuggeranong Vikings. He earned his first Super Rugby Cap in the Rebels' round 17 clash against the Brumbies in Canberra this year, and took home the Club's 5 Star Engagement award for outstanding contribution in the Victorian Rugby Union Community.
Cruze Ah Nau was the final signing for the Rebels' 2013 squad, after playing for Rebel Rising and Norths in 2012, and Western Force in 2011. Ah Nau's first Cap came in the Rebels' historic match against the British & Irish Lions on June 25 this year.
"In essence, these young players will be available for selection and will train alongside the main squad and local talent, as we continue to look to enrich Rugby in this State," said Cordingley.
"It is an exciting time for the Club and our Members, and we have every confidence that this young group will represent Melbourne in the not too distant future."
The popularity of rugby in Japan has continued to grow ahead of their inclusion in the 2016 Super Rugby competition.