The Melbourne Rebels have announced the re-signing of Stacey Ili, James Hanson, and George Worth whilst welcoming Efi Ma’afu back to the club.
Ili has a breakout 2021 campaign, scoring the fastest try in club history against Waratahs, going on to play 12 games across his debut season.
“With Kevin Foote continuing to lead the club, everyone can see Rebels are building something special and as a player, that’s something you want to be a part of,” the Samoan international said in a statement.
“The culture and values our club lives by and the belief we each have in each other, was a big part of my decision to sign on for 2022."
Meanwhile, Hansen was a mainstay of the Rebels side during the 2021 campaign, playing 12 of 13 matches of his stint with the club before returning to Queensland to win a Premiership with University of Queensland.
“Getting a taste of Super Rugby again after spending a few years overseas ignited something in me," Hansen added.
“I still have more I want to achieve in the game, and I’ve always had a deeper link with Melbourne after they gave me my first professional opportunity in the 2007 ARC competition.
“It’s been great to see how much the game has grown in Victoria and it would be really special to bring back some silverware to The Stockade and repay the Rebels’ faithful.”
They are joined by English back George Worth, who joined on loan from Leicester in 2021, with the 24-year-old excited to stay in Melbourne after cementing a spot at the back during the last four rounds of Trans-Tasman.
"I loved everything about my initial time with the Rebels, so being able to commit for a longer period of time is fantastic and I can’t wait to get stuck into pre-season and improve as a player,” said Worth. Young hooker, Efi Ma’afu, joins the returning trio, following one season playing overseas for Japanese side Yokohama Canon Eagles.
“I’m thrilled to be back in Rebels colours and really excited for the season ahead,” said Ma’afu.
“It’s great to be closer to my family now and to now have the opportunity to play with some familiar faces in such a wonderful city.”
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New GM of Rugby Nick Stiles was pleased to secure their signatures as they look to build off their 2021 season.
“It’s fantastic to provide some continuity to our playing squad as we begin to look ahead to an important Super Rugby Pacific campaign," he said.
“James Hanson is an experienced hooker, who’s tasted the ultimate success on the Super Rugby stage, and who is someone that will continue to play an important role within our club both on and off the field.
“We were really impressed by Stacey and George’s contributions in such a short period of time this year and look forward to both players building on these performances in 2022.
“Efi Ma’afu is a gifted young hooker and someone who we believe will make an impact for the Rebels next season. We’re excited for him to be a part of our journey - creating sustainable, long-term success for the Melbourne Rebels.”