Rebels snap up Taranaki prop Cocker for Super Rugby

The Melbourne Rebels will warm up for Super Rugby against Samoa

Melbourne based Super Rugby franchise the Rebels have signed tight-head prop Ryan Cocker for the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Twenty-three-year-old Cocker joins the Rebels after playing the last three seasons for Taranaki in New Zealand’s ITM Cup competition.

Cocker is also familiar with Super Rugby as for the past two seasons he has been a member of the Chiefs’ development side.

He has played a pivotal role in Taranaki’s success in the last three campaigns, playing as they won the 2014 ITM Cup Grand Final against Tasman to become the first team from outside New Zealand’s five Super Rugby base cities to win the competition since 1980, before being eliminated at the Semi Final stage this year.

Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Tony McGahan said he was looking forward to welcoming Cocker to the Club.

“We are delighted that Ryan will join the squad as we feel that he has the right skill set, work ethic and hungry attitude that fits very well with the Rebels program and culture,” McGahan said.

New Melbourne Rebels Assistant Coach Leo Crowley, who will join the Club for the next two Super Rugby seasons, worked alongside Cocker in his role of Assistant Coach at Taranaki, and said that the front rower was a “passionate team man who will add to the Club with his sense of humour, but most of all with his desire to get better.

“Ryan has progressed really well in his three years with Taranaki,” Crowley continued.

“He’s a dedicated young man who has been waiting for an opportunity, and he will grow as a player in Melbourne; I expect him to really add to our existing tight five group of players.

“Ryan’s strengths are his core roles around scrum and lineout. He is a very strong man in the gym, and his work ethic will enable the Rebels to grow his all round game.”

Cocker, whose mother was born in Australia, said he is looking forward to moving to Melbourne in the near future.

“I am very excited and grateful that I have the opportunity; I can’t wait to rip in,” he said.

“I have worked exceptionally hard at Taranaki, particularly over the last twelve months from a strength and conditioning perspective, and I’m pleased that work has paid off.”

Cocker said having a familiar face in Crowley will make the transition easier for him.

“Leo is a really good coach, and I’m sure he will have a great impact at the Rebels,” he said. “I am looking forward to getting across to Melbourne, seeing Leo and meeting everybody else including my new teammates.

“I have had numerous conservations with Tony McGahan and Baden Stephenson while I’ve been working away in the ITM Cup, and they sound really genuine. I’m looking forward to joining the Club and working with such a top-notch coaching staff.”

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