The Rebels have signed Irish international Jamie Hagan until the end of the 2017 Super Rugby season.
28 year old tighthead prop Hagan has made over 100 professional appearances for Leinster, Connacht and London Irish, as well as representing Ireland at both U18 and U20 level before making his full debut against the United States in 2013.
Hagan is just the second fully capped Irish international to sign for a Super Rugby team, after fellow Irish front rower Peter Clohessy spent the 1997 season with the Reds.
Hagan said he was looking forward to testing himself in the world’s best provincial rugby competition.
“Growing up in Ireland, I have always watched Super Rugby on a Saturday morning and it has always fascinated me,” he said. “Now, after eight years playing professionally in Ireland and England, I have an amazing opportunity to move to Melbourne and play both with and against people of such a high calibre. It’s such an exciting tournament; the Rugby is fast, furious and open, everything that rugby should be.”
Rebels’ Head Coach Tony McGahan said that Hagan would bring experience to the squad, having seen him in action first hand while working in Ireland himself and then being impressed with recent footage of him.
“To be able to bring a front row player into the team with 100 caps at the professional level is a real positive for the improvement of the squad going forward into the 2016 season,” McGahan said. “Jamie is quality player and he has added to every environment he has been a part of.
“Jamie’s playing experience in European Rugby, where the set piece is crucial, will bring a varied approach to the Rebels’ forward play and likewise he will find a different challenge for himself in Super Rugby.”
The opportunity for Hagan to move to Melbourne came about through a fellow Irishman who is already at the club.
“I worked with Eoin Toolan, who is the Rebels’ Performance Analyst, in Ireland and he put some of my footage in front of Tony McGahan and Zane Hilton,” Hagan explained. “I am most grateful that they liked what they saw, and now I am just really looking forward to coming over and showing them exactly what I’m made of.”
Hagan, who has spoken about Super Rugby at length with former Blues players Chris Noakes and Ica Nacewa when playing alongside them, holds high hopes for the future progression of the club.
“I’ve been watching the Rebels closely, and this season the club has really started to come into its own and play some great expansive rugby with a lot of good structure,” he said. “The set piece has been good and the scrum really dominant at times, with some unlucky results in there and some close losses. In 2016, if we can turn some of these into wins, there’s no limit to what we can do.”
Hagan’s signing is the third announcement in three days for the Rebels, with All Black Adam Thomson joining on Monday and lock Culum Retallick on Tuesday, as the club continue to bolster their ranks ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season.