The Melbourne Rebels have bolstered their front-row, signing Sam Talakai on a two-year deal.
Talakai made his Super Rugby debut in 2014 with the Reds before moving to Melbourne in 2017, playing 31 games for the Rebels.
The 30-year-old returns to Australia having plied his trade with Japanese powerhouses Suntory, coming off the bench during their Final defeat in May to Panasonic Wild Knights.
“I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with some incredible leaders like (Matt) Giteau, (Beauden) Barrett, (Samu) Kerevi, (Damian) McKenzie and (Sean) McMahon. You see part of the game in a different light, so I’m more than happy to pass on what I’ve learned and experienced and believe it will only be beneficial for us moving forward,” Talakai said in a statement.
“The pursuit of excellence in your role is what drives you daily, so for us to succeed, we’ve got to do it together and ultimately, we’ve got to show that through our actions.
“Seeing the emergence of our Club’s young guys really excites me, plus working closely with Nick Stiles, Kevin Foote and the entire coaching staff again.
“It felt right to come back, so I’m really excited to get back to Melbourne. The AAMI Park precinct has a special buzz to it, but first stop will be going back to my old local, Coe and Coe, for a toastie, coffee and some hoops - I can’t wait.”
Talakai joins a stack front-row, with the club locking down Cabous Eloff, Jordan Uelese, Cameron Orr and Pone Fa’amausili in the past month.
GM of Rugby Nick Stiles, who coached Talakai during the NRC and Super Rugby, was pleased to see the experienced tight-head return home.
“It’s going to be great to welcome Sam back to the Rebels,” said Stiles.
“Sam brings great experience to our front row stocks, and is someone that’s highly regarded by our players, our staff and our fans.”