Pat Leafa joins the Rebels EPS squad in 2013 following an outstanding season playing club rugby in Canberra.
Leafa moved from New Zealand to Canberra in 2012, taking up a spot in the ACT Brumbies development side and playing for the Tuggeranong Vikings. The move was a great success for Leafa as he won the MacDougall Medal for the most outstanding player in the Canberra club competition.
Leafa is thrilled to move down to Melbourne and begin life with the Rebels, and is delighted to be able to work alongside somebody with a familiar accent in Ged Robinson.
“To learn from somebody of Ged’s calibre is awesome,” says Leafa.
“He is the most experienced hooker I have ever worked with, and he has been a massive help already. He is teaching me so much about the standards and expectations of being a hooker at this level.
“Having Adam Freier still around the club as a leader is great too, and he will only continue to help me grow as a footy player. Off the field, he is really passionate to grow the game here and build the club culture, and it means so much for him to be a Rebel; that’s really rubbing off on me.”
Having moved down to Melbourne in September, the latest new recruit to the Rebels’ front-row really enjoys the physicality of his role, particularly in one area that the Rebels are keen to improve upon in 2013 – the scrum.
“I absolutely love scrumagging,” Leafa says with a huge amount of enthusiasm.
“It comes with the job (of playing in the front row); if you don’t enjoy the physical side of things, then you really need to reconsider the position you’re playing.”
So what else can Rebels fans expect to see from the youngster throughout the pre-season trials and Super Rugby competition?
“Every hooker has a different style of play, but I want to aspire to bring something new to the positon,” Leafa says.
“Who says hookers can’t score tries, and lots of them? I’m coming to bring new excitement, and a different ball game and approach to hooking.”
Leafa was the second highest try scorer in the Canberra club competition this year, and is extremely grateful to the club for giving him an opportunity in 2013 and beyond.
“It's hard to describe how excited I am to have my first crack as a professional rugby player here in Melbourne,” Leafa explains.
“This is what I have always wanted to do, and to land a contract with a Super Rugby side is just such a blessing. I’ve worked hard for it and kept ticking the boxes over the years, and now I’m determined to make the most of an incredible opportunity.”
So with the Wallabies hooking brigade boasting plenty of experience, where do Leafa’s national loyalties lie, and could he help bring some youth to the ranks?
“The reason I moved to Australia is to pursue Super Rugby, and that is the first level I want to get to, but God willing it goes well and I one day get a chance for the Wallabies,” said Leafa.
“I am eligible to play for Samoa, but the reason that I am here is to give that (playing for Australia) my best shot.”
While Leafa’s enthusiasm is contagious, and besides breaking into the Rebels 22, there are some other short term aims for Leafa as he settles down in Melbourne.
“I actually get pretty frustrated in such a big city, getting lost all the time, and rely heavily on my GPS!” said Leafa.
“The weather is also very different to Canberra or Auckland, and it’s just getting warmer and warmer – I’m definitely going to need to splash out on some sunscreen!”
As the summer heats up here in Melbourne, so does the career of this latest Rebels’ recruit, and 2013 brings endless possibilities for Pat Leafa.
Pete Fairbairn is a diehard Rebels fan who works within the sports industry. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking HERE.