RaboDirect Rebels sign Steve Cummins
EPS lock to join for 2015 season (photographer: Mark Metcalfe)
The RaboDirect Rebels have continued to shape their squad for the 2015 Super Rugby season, following the signing of young second rower Steve Cummins to their Extended Playing Squad (EPS).
Cummins, who was educated at famed sports academy The Hills Sports High in Sydney's West, has been a standout performer for Eastwood in Sydney's Shute Shield, and will help strengthen a second row that will lose Hugh Pyle (Europe) and Chris Thomson (retired) from this year's contract list.
Cummins, who captained the Australian Schoolboys in 2010 and has also represented Australia at U19 and U20 level, worked with Rebels' Assistant Coach Sean Hedger at the National Academy and trialled at the Club in early May ahead of being offered the contract.
"Sean Hedger gave me a call prior to me coming down, and it was good to hear from a familiar voice and somebody I trust having worked with him in the National Academy," Cummins said. "We had a good honest phone call, and 'Hedge' gave me a good idea of what to expect and what to do when I was in Melbourne.
"It was a short audition of just two days, but it was important for me to get a feel for the place and also for the Club to get a feel for me. If they decided to go down the route of offering me a contract, it was just as important that I felt comfortable moving down to Melbourne."
Cummins hasn't spent much time in Melbourne, but liked what he saw and is looking forward to the challenge of stepping up to try and play at the next level.
"My dad spent a large part of his childhood in Melbourne, but I have only been down a handful of times. It's an unfamiliar place, but I most definitely like what I have seen thus far.
"When I came down and trained with the Rebels, Luke Jones took me out for dinner and it looks like there is always something going on within the squad; the boys seem like a tight-knit group.
"My goal has always been to play Super Rugby and I see this as a good opportunity to do that. In saying that, the locks that are already at the Club are on the way up and I'll have to work hard; that's a big part of why I wanted to come. Luke Jones and Cadeyrn Neville have been stepping into a big role and performing really well and it doesn't surprise me to see them in Wallaby contention. Sam Jeffries is also a good mate of mine, and we played together for the Australian U20s, so I'm looking forward to working with him."
Rebels' Head Coach Tony McGahan is pleased to secure the signature of a player who has spent time training with the Waratahs and is well known in Australian Rugby circles, and admits tapping into Hedger's time spent working with Cummins.
"Steve is someone we have been monitoring for probably twelve months now; we've been watching how hard he has been working, juggling work and playing Club Rugby," McGahan explained. "Sean Hedger was a huge fan of Steve and what he does on and off the field. Sean worked closely with him, and was a natural person to talk to when we were looking at recruiting Steve.
"We've received a lot of references from coaches who have been involved with his development, and we were able to bring him down to have a look around here. Different parts of the organisation were able to meet him and get a feel for where he's at, and he could have a good look at the Club; both sides were keen to get something done.
"He's really keen to back himself, and will work hard to achieve his goals. We're looking forward to him coming on board, and to helping a young guy improve his Rugby and hopefully achieve his goal of playing in the Super Rugby competition."
Cummins' signing comes hot on the heels of a swathe of talented young Rebels re-signing, and McGahan believes he will be able to develop strongly amongst a program which is already beginning to unleash the raw potential of a number of young players.
"We're trying to get young players down here that are also quality people in the way they work and the way the act, and the respect they have for the organisation and other people around it. Steve certainly fits that bill; he's hungry, he's keen and he's determined to do well. He'll be in an environment where he can see huge improvement."