Melbourne Rising announce coaching setup
Sean Hedger to lead Rising in NRC
Sean Hedger will be at the helm of the Melbourne Rising team that will compete in the inaugural National Rugby Championship (NRC), kicking off in mid/late August 2014, after being named as Head Coach.
Hedger, an Assistant Coach to Tony McGahan at the RaboDirect Rebels, also enjoyed spells with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) National Academy and with both Kobelco Steelers and Kyuden Voltex in Japan. Sean has an outstanding track record at developing young and improving talent, the perfect attribute for a Rising squad which will feature sixteen contracted Rebels players and a larger training squad of up to 30 of the strongest players from Victorian Rugby's premier Club competition, the Dewar Shield.
Hedger was pleased to be appointed, and looking forward to becoming part of history when the NRC kicks off.
"There's no doubt Australian Rugby desperately needs a competition like this," he said. "I'm really looking forward to leading a Rising team which will contain the right balance of Rebels players and local talent. The formation of this team is the crucial step that was missing in the 'Road to Rebels' which will hopefully see Victorian players representing the Rebels and Wallabies in the years to come."
Hedger believes that there is no shortage of local talent ready to be unleashed in the competition.
"Getting these local guys into a more demanding Rugby program will be fantastic for their development," Hedger said. "From what we have seen thus far, there are some very talented boys who, with a little tweaking, are capable of anything. We've certainly not put a ceiling on their potential achievements; it's very exciting!"
Peter Leahy, Rebels' General Manager of Community Rugby and CEO of the Victorian Rugby Union, believes Hedger is the ideal choice to lead the Rising to success right from the get-go.
"We want to see Victorian players staying here, and not feeling like they need to go interstate to realise their potential," Leahy said. "Having the Rising here will play a key role in us achieving just that, and just as importantly having a Head Coach with Sean's credentials and track record will see us extracting the potential of all of these players; it's a great appointment.
"The Melbourne Rising is one of the greatest things to happen in the history of Victorian Rugby; we saw the impact firsthand of the Rebels in the 2007 ARC. It is a true elite pathway that will recognise Victoria's premier Club Rugby talent and provide them with the opportunity to develop and showcase their wares on a national stage. This team will represent the pinnacle of the community game here in Victoria, and the final stepping stone to becoming a Rebel, and hopefully a Wallaby."
Hedger will be supported by fellow Rebels' Assistant Coach, and former Wallaby, Matt Cockbain as well as Harlequin Head Coach Craig McGrath.
Cockbain earned 63 caps for the Wallabies during his playing career, and played for the Melbourne Rebels in the Australian Rugby Championship (ARC) in its only year, 2007. 41 year old Cockbain is in his third season as a full-time Assistant Coach at the Rebels, and has overseen outstanding growth in the development of the set piece and the forwards as his key areas of responsibility.
New Zealand-born McGrath led Harlequin, the former Club of Wallaby Head Coach Ewen McKenzie, to the Dewar Shield title in 2013 as both a player and joint Head Coach. It was Quins 7th Dewar Shield title, and first since 2004. 39 year old McGrath enjoyed a stellar career before bringing his Rugby expertise to Melbourne, representing the Blues in Super Rugby and playing for Viadana in Italy, including their campaign in Europe's premier Club Rugby competition, the Heineken Cup.
A local Rising training squad have begun some initial training sessions as part of a six week block, before the sixteen allocated Rebels will be added to the group following the completion of the Asteron Life Super Rugby season.
Stay tuned for further announcements regarding the makeup of that training squad, and the allocation of Rebels, in the coming days and weeks, as well as announcements regarding leadership, membership packages, fixturing, sponsorship and more.
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