Robbie Abel has been upgraded to a full Super Rugby contract with the Brumbies, signing a one-year deal for 2017.
Abel was signed to the ACT franchise on an extended performance squad contract for 2016 but played just five minutes across two matches in his debut Brumbies season.
The hooker’s path through rugby has been unique, having taken two years off for a Mormon mission in Western Australia before returning to the ACT in 2012 and playing in the New Zealand provincial competition for Northland.
Abel has made a major impact off the field at the Brumbies, winning the club’s community player of the year award for his work with Indigenous and Pacific Islander youth groups around the territory.
The 27- year-old said he was driven to make more of an impact in the Brumbies jersey, competing with Josh Mann-Rea and the returned Saia Fainga’a for the starting spot.
“Making my debut in South Africa earlier this year was honestly a dream come true,” Abel said.
“Getting that taste of Super Rugby this year has really spurred me on to keep going and pushing myself again in 2017.
“We’ve got some great depth at hooker next season and I’ll be doing everything I can to help the side out however I can.”
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said Abel would be a handy retention for the team.
“Robbie is a class player who will compete with two Wallabies representatives in Josh Mann-Rea and Saia Fainga’a for the hooker position each week,” Larkham said.
“As we’ve seen over the past two NRC seasons, his work in both the set piece and around the park makes him a very valuable player.
“He works hard at training and will be pushing for more game time again in 2017 and we are very happy to have him on board for another season.”