Hanson keen to throw himself into Melbourne life

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

He’s just a fresh haircut from being fully immersed in Melbourne’s hipster lifestyle and new Rebels recruit James Hanson hopes his on-field transition will be just as smooth.

Living just around the corner from his new home ground, AAMI Park, Hanson is within throwing distance of a handful of teammates and fellow Queenslanders who have made the move south.

The 26-year-old joins former Queensland teammates including Dom Shipperley and Mike Harris at his new club and hopes to help them achieve team success in 2016.

“They were great players in Queensland,” he said.

“Down here they’ve played some really consistent footy and they’ve almost translated to leadership roles down here, which is good to see.

While the Rebels have started to build their local talent base, signing their first home-grown Victorian players this season, the club is still a melting pot for many interstate players.

Hanson said that meant there was an easy bond among the playing group.

“I’ve got a few teammates around the area (where I live) and it’s a pretty tight group,” he said.

“We hang out together and really enjoying each other’s company off the training paddock.

“I think that is obviously a point of difference (for the Rebels), the majority of the people come from different states.”

Hanson and World Cup teammates Sean McMahon and Toby Smith all returned to Rebels training this month, despite not being required until January.

While Hanson didn’t feature in any Cup matches after coming in as an injury replacement, Michael Cheika’s gruelling training load took its toll on him and a break proved a crucial mental refresher for him.

“It’s pretty well known now that Cheika’s training sessions contact wise are full on,” he said.

“The workload is still right up there and so it was important for me that I got away from Rugby for a bit.

“Even coming down earlier it’s still mentally a freshen up.

“There’s this pure excitement, so coming down early wasn’t a chore or a hassle, it’s been good.”

For the ex-Reds hooker a keenness to jump straight into his new environment was a key factor in returning to training.

“I was in Queensland my whole career and one of the reasons for coming down was to experience a new environment,” he said.

“I want to really enjoy my Rugby but also want to play some consistent footy and I think this is the environment to do that.”

One of the older heads in the Rebels group, Hanson is comfortable taking somewhat of a mentoring role in the group, a job that’s a natural fit for a hooker.

“I’m one of the older guys, which is a bit strange for me,” he said.

“But in my a role as a hooker you need that leadership role to be able to control set piece and that sort of thing.

“That was one of the challenges of coming down here keen to get stuck into -that sort of thing.”

Hanson will compete with Pat Leafa for the starting hooker spot in 2016 but it’s a battle that he has put to the back of his mind.

“I’m just trying to work in the team see how things are running,” he said.

“I’m soaking everything up and trying to get my head around the different calls.

“I’m really looking forward playing my part in this group and hopefully we can build on the last few years’ performance.”