Wallabies receive major boost as Lopeti Timani pens contract extension

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    Wallabies and Melbourne Rebels backrower Lopeti Timani has signed a contract extension which will keep him playing in Australia until at least the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

    The former Waratah has already pulled on a Wallabies jersey on six occasions having made his debut in September against Argentina in Perth.

    26-year-old Timani had previously signed on until 2017, however, his latest extension ensures he’ll remain in the Australian fold until the next Rugby World Cup, which is to be hosted in Japan in 2019.

    It is thought the 193cm forward was courted by a number of overseas sides, and his re-signing represents a serious coup for the Wallabies as well as Super Rugby side the Melbourne Rebels.

    Timani joined the Rebels in 2014 from the Waratahs and has since featured 29 times in the Super Rugby competition, crossing for six tries in the process.

    “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,” Timani said.

    “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 Rugby World Cup.”

    Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was pleased with the signing, stating he was excited to see Timani continue his development in Australia.

    “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.”

    Timani’s coach at the Rebels, Tony McGahan, also lauded the powerful backrower’s decision.

    “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,” McGahan said.

    “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.”

    The Rebels will begin their 2017 Super Rugby campaign with the first game of the season at home against the Blues on Thursday, February 23.

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    The Crowd Says (28)

    • January 11th 2017 @ 10:39am
      Browny said | January 11th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

      Great to hear the big men are sticking put. Arnold & Timani both rejecting big money O/S offers to stay here and Coleman still has another year or so on his contract (can someone go an extend that contract already?!) Now to keep pushing the youth through… Holloway, Dempsey, Hanigan, Staniforth, Tui, Ready, Scoble, Tui, Tupou… defintely some exciting prospects to watch this year and hopefully a few will take the next step towards national representation.

      • January 12th 2017 @ 7:21pm
        Noodles said | January 12th 2017 @ 7:21pm | ! Report

        Terrific on many levels. Great to see a focus on forwards talent. Great to see the guy commit. Fab to see the Melbourne group get a kick along. If we can get into these sorts of habits…..!

    • January 11th 2017 @ 10:51am
      Boz the Younger said | January 11th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

      This bloke would be overseas and lost by now if it wasn’t for the Rebs. So much for this nonsense about Australia only being able to sustain three Super Rugby teams.

      • January 11th 2017 @ 11:18am
        Browny said | January 11th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        Hear, hear!

      • Columnist

        January 11th 2017 @ 11:49am
        Brett McKay said | January 11th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        Well said, Boz..

      • January 11th 2017 @ 1:16pm
        Akari said | January 11th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

        Agreed, Boz

      • Roar Guru

        January 11th 2017 @ 2:10pm
        jeznez said | January 11th 2017 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

        Yeah is great that the Rebels are giving guys like Timani, McMahon, Hodge and Naivalu the chance to grow their game and become valuable Wallabies.

        Couple that with guys like Coleman and Haylett-Petty from the west and the additional teams are helping identify/develop some quality players.

        This is great news that Lopeti has re-signed. Hopefully the Rebels can have him run at 8 next year so he can focus on his play in the position we need him nationally.

        • January 11th 2017 @ 2:25pm
          Browny said | January 11th 2017 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

          I’m hoping we’ll see Mafi-McMahon-Timani with Reid and/or Fainga’a off the bench. While lacking an out-and-out lineout specialist (previously occupied at the Rebels by Thomson and Higginbotham)it’s still a pretty mouth watering prospect with some serious grunt and ball running ability in loose and tight. Going to be especially great when you think of the battles they’ll have with Tui-Smith-Higginbotham, Dempsey-Hooper-Holloway, Cottrell-Hodgson-McCalman and Fardy-Alcock-Butler or whatever the Brumbies trio ends up looking like…

          • January 11th 2017 @ 6:32pm
            TommyM said | January 11th 2017 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

            Very excited about the Rebs prospects this year. Wouldn’t be surprised if they still play Timani at lock though given their ridiculous backrow depth. Mafi is really an 8 more than a so they may also play Timani at 6 and himat 8.

            Mind you Timani is the only tallish option in the back row I can think of so maybe they will play him there. Been very impressed with Sam Jeffries at lock. Needs another of the locks to stand up this year

            • January 12th 2017 @ 9:24am
              Browny said | January 12th 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

              Considering the lack of height in the back row I think they’ll be forced to play Timani at 8. They’ve got away with him at lock (to a degree) previously as Thomson and Higginbotham were both great in the air and they were the primary aerial targets along with Jones. While it may be appealing to run Jeffries-Timani-Reid/Fainga’a-McMahon-Mafi for their ground level ability I think they’ll realistically have to pick a taller back 5. Jeffries paired with one of Day or Toolis (possibly Cummins if he can lift his game) isn’t too bad; both locks will be primary targets, McMahon is actually pretty good in the air as he’s up so quickly, Timani does ok and I think Mafi is enough for the rare surprise jump as the 5th option.

    • January 11th 2017 @ 11:23am
      Maroon Kev said | January 11th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

      Yeah. Old Cheika didn’t wanna know him at the Tahs!

      • Roar Guru

        January 11th 2017 @ 11:50am
        Machooka said | January 11th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        Ummm… a slight change of colour there Kev?

      • January 11th 2017 @ 12:02pm
        Browny said | January 11th 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

        When he was in NSW he didn’t have the work ethic. He picked that up in Melbourne.

      • Roar Guru

        January 11th 2017 @ 2:06pm
        jeznez said | January 11th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        Cheika just got it wrong, he was a very young bloke just learning his trade and still learning English. Cheika decided he could only afford one of Lopeti and Tala Grey in his squad and punted on the more experienced player.

        I thought it was a mistake at the time and so it has proven to be but can completely understand why Cheika made the decision he did.

      • January 11th 2017 @ 3:59pm
        Jock Cornet said | January 11th 2017 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

        Yeah it’s great that the force , rebels and reds won’t beat a NZ side

        • January 11th 2017 @ 4:22pm
          Maroon Kev said | January 11th 2017 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

          Old squirrel. Thinks he’s an expert on rugby because he played for Easts 5th grade back in 1957.

          Righto buddy!

        • January 11th 2017 @ 4:36pm
          Browny said | January 11th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

          Maybe not. But considering they’ve beaten the Crusaders in Christchurch I’m not ruling it out. At least when the Rebels beat the Waratahs again in round 5 it’ll be a home game at AAMI Park so there’s somewhere to go for a drink afterwards.

          • January 11th 2017 @ 8:43pm
            jameswm said | January 11th 2017 @ 8:43pm | ! Report

            There’s nowhere to go for a drink around Paddington?

    • January 11th 2017 @ 1:59pm
      krasnoff of noosa said | January 11th 2017 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

      Hear hear for the exciting prospects of which Timani is one. Now let’s hope the Wallabies coaching staff comprehend game-play strategy better than the BS they put forth in 2016. Moreover, Cheika’s team selection for last year showed flawed favouritism and his bench replacement was largely inept. Also the Wallabies were ill disciplined (61 penalties), yet Pulver believes that the only problem is player inconsistencies. Keep this attitude up and 2017 will be an instant replay of 2016 despite whatever prospects may appear on the horizon.

    • Roar Guru

      January 11th 2017 @ 5:24pm
      Hoy said | January 11th 2017 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

      Every time I see Timani, I think “Flash as a rat with a gold tooth!!” Glad he is staying… now if everyone can play their proper positions across all teams this year thanks!

      • January 12th 2017 @ 4:09pm
        RubberLegs said | January 12th 2017 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

        Timani will play #8 against Kieran Read in the 2017 Bledisloe Cup. If Read is fit, someone else will have to make the difference necessary for the Wallabies to win unless the current coaching machine can make Lopeti a 25% better fitter footballer in the off season.

        • January 12th 2017 @ 4:24pm
          Browny said | January 12th 2017 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

          A 25% increase in any metric is a pretty tough ask for under 3 months…

          That being said he’s been improving at a pretty good rate over the last couple of years, I’m interested to see the affect that some test experience does for his SR form in the lead into the Bledisloe/TRC.

          I also think the one-on-one battle of Read and Timani will hardly be the factor that decides the outcome of the series. Realistically Timani’s more like-for-like partner is Kaino. Read’s wide running lines up with Hooper’s in this regard and Kaino and Read will square off against Timani and McMahon (most likely). The three of Hooper, McMahon and Timani will all share the load in the over the ball stuff, Hooper out wide with the quick ‘before the opposition get there’ stuff, Timani in tight and McMahon in the middle. At least that’s the way I see it. If we were playing an * more in the mold of Higginbotham or Holloway they’d be a more direct opponent for Read in the aspects of the game he (Read) focuses and excels in but we’re playing a different loose trio structure to the AB’s so it’s not so simple.

          • January 12th 2017 @ 8:16pm
            RubberLegs said | January 12th 2017 @ 8:16pm | ! Report

            Fair enough. Being over 120 Kgs is a good start.

    • January 12th 2017 @ 6:07pm
      Peter Hughes said | January 12th 2017 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

      That’s a relief.
      Lopeti was one of the few bright spots in a season of disappointments

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