Melbourne Rebels have announced the signing of Young Tonumaipea, who returns home to Victoria and to rugby union after inking a two-year contract.
The 28-year-old will add professional experience to an emerging Rebels squad looking to build on a promising 2020 Super Rugby AU campaign.
Tonumaipea will return to Melbourne, following an impressive season in the NRL with the Gold Coast Titans in which the versatile centre made 10 appearances, scoring three tries and averaging 120 running metres.
Prior to his Sunshine State stint, Tonumaipea was a highly valued member of the Melbourne Storm, becoming one of only three born and bred locals to have ever represented the club.
After making his first-grade NRL debut in 2014, Tonumaipea went on to play 44 games for the Storm, scoring 12 tries and producing a level of consistency that would lead to international honours with Samoa at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
A product of Victoria’s local development pathway’s program, Tonumaipea spent his junior years playing for the Northern Panthers and Broadmeadows-based side, the Northern Thunder, before joining the Victoria Thunderbolts where he would be named U20s Player of the Year.
Tonumaipea says he’s excited to be returning back to the city he so dearly loves and playing in front of his friends and family for an exciting Rebels’ side he’s been following closely all year.
Driven to succeed “Melbourne is home for me, so I can’t wait to be back home with my family and friends, in the city I love, back at my old stomping grounds,” he said.
“I’m so excited for this opportunity. When I came back to the NRL after being away, I was determined to prove I could still play at the highest level and now having fulfilled that goal, I’m driven to succeed at this new challenge.
“I’m also pumped to be rubbing shoulders with Marika (Koroibete) again and I also know a few of the other boys like Hodgey (Reece Hodge) and Pone (Fa’amausili) as well, so I won’t be stuck in the corner eating my lunch by myself.
“The success the Rebels have had this year was a big part of why I wanted to come over. They’re really growing something special over there at the moment, so I’m keen to put in where I can and just be a part of it.”
Melbourne Rebels head coach Dave Wessels said: “We’re excited about bringing Young home. Aside from his on-field ability, he’s clearly a very proud Melbourne man. He’s had a great season in the NRL and we’re look forward to seeing the impact he will make in our game and our community over the next few years.”
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