Melbourne Rising 2017 Squad & Season Preview

After losing in the opening week of the NRC playoffs for the third straight season, the Melbourne Rising will put their trust in a handful of future stars this year as they look to overcome a disappointing Super Rugby season.

The Rising named an extended squad after holding a trial match for Dewar Shield club players earlier this year and 17 debutants played their way into the final squad for the upcoming season.

But perhaps the most exciting aspect of this year’s Rising campaign is their young stars.

“We’ve got quite a few guys from this year’s Australian U20s squad, some local guys and plenty of players with Super Rugby experience,” Rising forward Rob Leota told Rugby News.

“Guys like Jack Maddocks, Jordan Uelese and Sione Tuipulotu played really well in the 20s and I think after getting a taste of Super Rugby this year, they’ll take a lot of confidence into this NRC season.”

Former Aussie 7s star Henry Hutchison will continue his transition to XVs and look to play his way into a Rebels jersey ahead of the 2018 Super Rugby season, while schoolboy stars Jack McGregor and Hunter Paisami will also get their first taste of the competition.

Leota said he was confident an expansive style will suit the young playing group this season.

“We’ll play similar to the Rebels but I think we’ll look to throw the ball around a bit more. We want to play an expansive style but to do that you need to be smart as well otherwise it can hurt you.”

“In saying that, I think the main thing is we want our guys to play what is in front of them.”

Players to watch – Mahe Vailanu & Ikapote Tupai

“They’re both local Victorian boys and that’s great to see, they’ve both been carving up the Dewar Shied this year,” Leota said.

“They’ll both play flanker for the Rising, even though Mahe usually plays hooker but they are good ball carriers, really skilful and physical in contact, so it will be great to see what they can do at this level.”

Melbourne Rising 2017 Playing Squad:

Angus Arundel, Steve Cummins, Pone Fa’amuasili, Maradona Farao, Josh Fenner, Harrison Goddard, Esei Haangana, James Hanson, Henry Hutchison, Lloyd Johansson, Simei Kolio, Marika Koroibete, Emmanuel Maufou Latu, Angelo Leaupepe, Rob Leota, Jack Maddocks, Jack McGregor, Tom Moloney, Rory O’Connor, Hunter Paisami, Kitione Ratu, Fereti Sa’aga, Oliva Sialau, Siliva Siliva, Nic Stirzaker, Sione Taufa, Alex Toolis, Sione Tuipulotu, Ikapote Tupai, Semisi Tupou, Jordan Uelese, Mahe Vailanu, Sean McMahon (Wallaby), Sefa Naivalu (Wallaby), Reece Hodge (Wallaby), Lopeti Timani (Wallaby), Toby Smith (Wallaby).

Round 1 v Perth Spirit (Away)

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