Bustling backrower Lopeti Timani is the latest to join the growing number of Wallabies to re-commit with the ARU through to the 2019 World Cup.
Timani reportedly rejected big money on offer in France where he could have joined brother - and former Wallaby Sitaleki - instead deciding to stay with the Melbourne Rebels.
The 26 year-old made his Wallaby debut just last year, establishing himself as a backrow force in six Tests and staking a long-term claim for the number 8 jersey.
His two-year extension now sees him through to 2019 and the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“I’m thankful for the opportunities in the last 12 months, it was a goal to play for the Wallabies and the result of lots of hard work, but I feel like there are lots of improvements that I can still make in my game,” Timani said.
“I’ve enjoyed my time in Melbourne over the last couple of years so I’m looking forward to working with Rebels head coach Tony McGahan and forwards coach Zane Hilton to give myself the best chance at fulfilling my dream of playing at the Rugby World Cup.”
Despite interest from overseas, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said it was pleasing to see Timani continue his development in Australia.
“Lopeti made a great entry into the international arena with the Wallabies this year and he certainly did not look out of place in a Test jersey.
The challenge is just starting for him now and you can see he wants it by knocking back some lucrative European offers to stay and play in Melbourne and put his hand up to represent the Wallabies again in 2017.”
Timani was one of six Rebels to feature on the Spring Tour for the Wallabies last year with the Melbourne franchise reaping the benefits of his continued development.
“Lopeti has worked hard for his opportunities this year with the Wallabies which is great recognition of his hard work and consistency over the last three years,” Melbourne Rebels head coach Tony McGahan said.
“He’s shown great commitment and focus to developing his core skills and fitness since his arrival at the club so we look forward to Lopeti playing a key role for the Rebels and Wallabies in the years to come.”
Timani and the Rebels kick off their pre-season campaign against the Western Force on February 6.