Wessels lures extra Force to the Rebels
Aside from Barakat, joining the coaching team, Rebels new Head Coach Dave Wessels has confirmed assistant coaches Kevin Foote, Shaun Berne and Craig McGrath will all join as deputies for the next two seasons.
Barakat will join the Rebels after a year under Wessels at the Western Force following assistant coaching roles with Ireland’s Ulster (2015-16), Japan’s Toshiba (2012-15), NTT Communications Shining Arcs (2010-12) and Fiji Rugby Union (2009-10).
After guiding the Perth Spirit to the 2017 National Rugby Championship (NRC) semifinals in his first year as head coach, Foote – a former South African Sevens representative – will continue his role under Wessels.
Recently retired flyhalf Berne, who hung up the boots in 2016 after more than 200 games of senior rugby in Australia and UK, will continue his transition into coaching at the Rebels.
McGrath, who joined the Rebels in 2014, will continue to play a key figure in the development of local talent after accepting the Head Coach position of the NRC’s Melbourne Rising, overseeing the development of underage home-grown talent and continue with the Rebels as a skills coach.
Will Markwick has been appointed the Rebels new Head of Athletic Performance following three years with the Western Force and two years with the NBL’s Perth Wildcats in the lead of athletic performance and conditioning roles.
The Rebels retained Head Physiotherapist Cullen Ball, Head Performance Analyst Eoin Toolan, Assistant Performance Analyst John Batini, and Strength and Conditioner Shane Lehane.
The 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.”
The Melbourne Rebels will kick-off its 2018 Super Rugby campaign at home against the Queensland Reds at AAMI Park on Friday, February 23.