Reds round up a Rebel
The Australian conference champions, the Reds, have bolstered their squad by adding former Brumbies and Rebels prop Jono Owen to the roster for 2013.
Owen has been signed to the Reds squad to further strengthen their playing stocks in the front row and he will be aiming to build on the 17 Super Rugby caps he has earned previously during the last two seasons.
Owen said he is now looking forward to the opportunity of playing in Queensland with the Reds.
"One of the big reasons I decided to come to Queensland was that Ewen McKenzie has a history of backing guys who train hard and play well by giving them an opportunity," Owen said.
"So for me, my goal during the preseason is just to work hard, tick the boxes and push towards a healthy competition with the other guys in my position. Hopefully that will make me a better player and also improves the team.
"There is a really positive environment here at the Reds and you can tell by the fact that they have kept the majority of their roster together that they have an extremely strong culture on and off the field.
"I'm really looking forward to being part of that, putting in a big preseason and setting myself up to achieve a lot more in Rugby by doing my part for the team."
At 119kg and 186cm, Owen comes to the Reds two-years after making his debut for the Brumbies in 2011 against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, where he impressed enough to earn eight caps in his inaugural Super Rugby season.
He entered 2012 determined to add to that number although the Brumbies strong depth at prop, where they boasted such talents as Wallaby Ben Alexander and Dan Palmer, saw the Hong Kong-born powerhouse choose to chase a playing opportunity at the Melbourne Rebels.
The Brumbies and Rebels came to an agreement midway through the 2012 Super Rugby season which saw Owen finish the remainder of the year in Melbourne, where he would go on to add a further nine Super Rugby caps to his resume.
Before joining the Brumbies in 2011, Jono earned 13 caps for Counties-Manukau in New Zealand in a team that boasted All Blacks great Tana Umaga as a player and coach.
He also represented Counties-Manukau in two Ranfurly Shield matches in 2010 – against Southland and Canterbury – while Owen played for Sydney University between 2007 and 2009 and for Randwick in 2010.
The Reds made their official return to pre-season training on Monday, determined to set the benchmark higher than ever before in what will be a huge season of Rugby in Queensland during 2013.
The Reds will also enter next season buoyed by the growing maturity and stability of a playing roster that boasts only one new addition, Owen.
Owen, 26, joined his Reds teammates at Ballymore on Monday where the team kicked off pre-season preparations.
"With each season comes fresh challenges, but also a heightened level of excitement for the playing and coaching group and our fans," Reds Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie said.
"The beginning of preseason is always an exciting period and pleasingly for us, we commence our 2013 preparations with an almost identical playing roster to last year.
"Our group, which still remains one of the youngest in Super Rugby, has never enjoyed anywhere near this level of cohesion in previous years and it can only prove beneficial as we continue implementing new strategies and building on our current structures of play.
"We've never hidden from the fact that we are seeking to offer a product that appeals to our fans and the stability within our roster should really allow us to take our game to another level as we improve incrementally as both individuals and as a group.
"But, as we know, everyone begins a new year on a level playing field and with renewed hope, so it's important we use the experiences of last season to our advantage and raise the bar in terms of performance once again. That all begins on the training paddock and in the gym now."
Next year will be a year to remember for Reds supporters with the British & Irish Lions to make their first tour to Australia in 12 years. As part of their tour, at least half of the Reds 35-man squad will get their first taste of Test-like Rugby in a historic Tour match against the visitors at Suncorp Stadium on June 8.
As well as that first encounter against the Lions since 2001, the Reds have been handed a great Super Rugby draw at Suncorp Stadium in 2013 which includes home games against Aussies rivals the Waratahs, Force, Brumbies and Rebels, plus Ewen McKenzie's men will take on New Zealand's Hurricanes and Blues as well as South Africa's Bulls and Sharks.
Forwards: Albert Anae, Ben Daley, Saia Faingaa, Liam Gill, James Hanson, Greg Holmes, James Horwill, Jono Owen, Eddie Quirk, Radike Samo, Jake Schatz, Rob Simmons, Beau Robinson, James Slipper, David McDuling, Adam Wallace-Harrison.
Backs: Quade Cooper, Rod Davies, Chris F'Sautia, Anthony Faingaa, Nick Frisby, Will Genia, Michael Harris, Jono Lance, Digby Ioane, Ben Lucas, Luke Morahan, Dom Shipperley, Aidan Toua, Ben Tapuai.