Joe Barakat to join Melbourne Rebels as assistant coach

Former Western Force and West Harbour coach Joe Barakat will join his former colleague Dave Wessels at the Melbourne Rebels as an assistant coach in 2018.

Former Waratah Sean Berne and 2017 Perth Spirit coach Kevin Foote have also joined Barakat and Craig McGrath on the Rebels coaching staff under Wessels ahead of next season.


Barakat joined the Force late last year after a stint with Irish club Ulster. He spent a number of years coaching in Japan before returning to the Shute Shield to coach West Harbour in 2015.

The coaching announcement finalises the Melbourne Rebels rugby department following the appointments of Wessels, highly regarded General Manager Professional Rugby and Pathways Nick Ryan and experienced new Team Director Tony Thorpe.

“We set out to establish an elite professional rugby environment at the Melbourne Rebels and feel that we’ve been able to assemble a world-class staff of top coaches and performance staff,” Wessels said.

Zane Hilton has farewelled his post after three years with the club, where he played a key role in the development of Wallabies forwards Sean McMahon, Lopeti Timani, Toby Smith and Jordan Uelese, and guided the Rising to a league record three consecutive NRC finals series.

Morgan Turinui will remain with the Rebels in an ambassadorial role until the end of the year. The former Wallaby joined the Rebels as an assistant coach in the middle of the 2016 Super Rugby season.

“I want to take the opportunity to thank Zane and Morgan for their contribution to the Rebels, both have provided signigficant leadership and player development in their respective roles,” Melbourne Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson said.

“Along with his work as forwards coach, Zane will leave a lasting legacy for Victorian rugby with his unwavering commitment to the development of local talent through his work with the Dewar Shield and Rising program.

“Morgan has been a wealth of knowledge and experience for our young group over the last 18 months and has played a key role in the development of key backs, including Wallabies Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Sefa Naivalu and future Wallaby Jack Maddocks.”