New RaboDirect Rebels signing Alex Rokobaro has revealed he would not have left France to join any side in Super Rugby except for the Melbourne Rebels.
The Fiji A capped outside back has been playing for Stade Francais in the French Top 14 for the past two seasons, and is considered by many to have a very promising future in the game.
“The Rebels have shown faith in me by offering a two year contract,” explained Rokobaro.
“But even then, if the offer had come from any other team, then I would have stayed in Paris.”
Rokobaro was part of the Rebel Rising program prior to heading away to Europe, even featuring for the Rebels in their 2011 pre-season, and was surprised to get the opportunity to play in France at such a young age.
“I had a phone call from my manager saying that they (Stade Francais) had offered me a contract, and I had three weeks to get over there," said Rokobaro.
"It was a massive step up for me as a young bloke; I had never even lived away from home before. I really enjoyed the opportunity to experience a different culture, both in terms of living but also in terms of rugby, but now I am back in Australia and hoping to get an opportunity to play Super Rugby.”
Rokobaro is very grounded; he admits that while he has ambitious long-term aims, he has many smaller ambitions that he wants to tick off along the way.
“The main focus is to learn as much as I can from the guys who I am around,” he points out.
“If I can start getting a little bit of game time in 2013, then that would be fantastic, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”
RaboDirect Rebels Recruiting Manager Sam Cordingley agrees, pointing out that: “Rokobaro is a player with plenty to offer but we have made him no guarantees.”
The offer a two-year deal certainly does suggest that the Rebels see Rokobaro as a long-term option, and fans can get excited about the possibility of seeing this young gun unleashed next season.
“We see Alex as probably best out on the wing at the moment,” explains Cordingley.
“He is more than capable of playing anywhere in the back three, and he has played at fullback for one of the biggest clubs in France, but we are excited to see what he can offer out wide.”
Rokobaro likes to get into space down the left hand side, and is working hard on his kicking in an attempt to round out a stronger overall package.
“I am left-footed, so I like to play out wide on the left," said Rokobaro.
"I have been very fortunate to play alongside Felipe Contemponi (the former Argentinian captain) at Stade Francais, and watching him and the way he approaches his kicking was a great opportunity. I have a way to go, but I will keep working on that part of my game.”
Having spent some time with the Rebels before his move overseas, Rokobaro feels comfortable at his new home, and has enjoyed spending a little time with his new teammates, but is really looking forward to getting back into campand setting some team goals for next season.
“I loved every minute of it when I was here a couple of years ago," said Rokobaro.
"Having the opportunity to be around guys like Sam Cordingley, Greg Somerville, Stirling Mortlock and Mark Gerrard, at first I didn’t know whether to just say hi or ask for an autograph.
“But everybody was so welcoming, and I was very comfortable; when I first met Greg (Somerville), he was so relaxed that I didn’t realise I was meeting an All Blacks legend until somebody pointed it out a couple of hours later!”
This talented and determined youngster is certainly one to look out for in the Rebels’ third season in the competition.
Pete Fairbairn is a freelance writer and a big RaboDirect Rebels fan. You can follow him on twitter @skippytbk