RaboDirect Rebels Hooker Extends Contract

RaboDirect Rebels Hooker Extends Contract

Pat Leafa to stay in Melbourne for another two years

RaboDirect Rebels Hooker Pat Leafa has committed his future to the Club, signing a deal which will see him remain in Melbourne until the end of the 2016 season.

Leafa was born in Auckland, however will qualify to represent Australia if selected as of January 2015. The popular hooker joined the Rebels from the ACT Brumbies Academy and the Canberra Club competition as a member of the Extended Playing Squad (EPS) in 2012, managing two appearances as he patiently waited behind Ged Robinson and Shota Horie in the pecking order.

2013 has seen Leafa move to the full squad and feature in every match, interchanging the starting role with Japanese International Horie, and scoring his first try for the Club against the Hurricanes.

"I'm really happy to be staying in Melbourne," Leafa said. "It is the start of a new chapter, and I'm excited to see how the Club unfolds in the next two years; I want to be a part of it."

Rebels' Rugby Operations Manager Baden Stephenson said that locking down the hooker was a retention priority, and praised Leafa for the amount of hard work he has put in to take the step up to playing Super Rugby.

"We're pleased with Pat this year; he has certainly grown, and we see him as a critical part of the Club's future," Stephenson said. "Pat has started in seven games, and featured every week, which is impressive for his first real season in Super Rugby. He is improving his consistency and certainly doing a good job for us.

 "Pat is a perfect fit for the organisation. He works hard, is very popular with the playing group and is a very humble man with high standards and enjoys the family nature of the Club."

The word family is very important to Pat, who earlier this year lost his father Pio. He uses his late father as an inspiration, as well as taking great pleasure in playing in front of his other family members including mother Sesilia. He also sees the Club as his secondary family now, and that tight bond played a key role in his decision to re-sign.

"My family are very proud of me, and I know that; I am very happy to play in front of my family, whether they're at the stadium or watching on TV," Leafa said. "I'm representing my whole family every time I play. Part of the decision behind extending my stay is that I see the Rebels growing, and I want to be a part of this family. I want to be amongst the guys who make this Club who it is; I'm just rapt to be staying."

"The support from the Club has been immense this whole year with the passing of my dad. I know that my family are thinking of me, and they know that I am thinking of them, every time I take the field. It's always my strongest motivation to take the field and remember the little bits of advice my dad and my family have given me; I take that out there with me when I play."

With Australian eligibility just around the corner, Leafa admits that pushing for international selection is the end goal, however for now the focus is on continuing to push for a Rebels' starting spot on a regular basis.

"I've loved being so involved; the hardest thing about it has been to keep performing, keep pushing and doing the hard work to try and keep the starting jersey if I get it. Every week you have to fight for it, and once you do get it you have to fight so you don't let it go. Steve Fualau and Shota Horie have been healthy competition, and with Tom Sexton coming back from injury, it's not going to get any easier."

Leafa joins the likes of Cruze Ah-Nau, Nic Stirzaker, Sean McMahon and Scott Fuglistaller in recently extending his Rebels contract, with further retention and recruitment announcements imminent.