Timani boosts World Cup dream
NEWS: Wallabies loose forward Lopeti Timani has given his chances of playing in the 2019 World Cup a massive boost by committing his future to Australia.
Having already signed until the end of the 2017 season, the 26-year-old has accepted a two-year contract extension until the World Cup in Japan.
Timani made his international debut in 2016 against Argentina in Perth, after he accumulated 29 Super Rugby appearances, including six tries, since he joined the Rebels in 2014.
"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.
"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 World Cup," Timani said.
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 last year (2016) 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 after knocking back some lucrative European offers to stay and play in Melbourne and putting his hand up to represent the Wallabies again in 2017," Cheika said.
Timani, along with his Melbourne-based Wallabies teammates, returned to training this week as preparations continue ahead of the 2017 Super Rugby season.
"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.
"He's shown great commitment and focus to develop 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," Rebels head coach Tony McGahan said.
The powerful and hard-hitting forward emerged as a potential solution to the Wallabies No.8 vacancy during this year's Rugby Championship and Spring Tour with five of his six international appearances in the backrow.