Melbourne’s first home game in more than a year was particularly special for local lock Trevor Hosea, who had never played a Super Rugby AU match in front of Rebels fans.
Due to COVID-19 forcing the Rebels out of Victoria for the entire 2020 season when Hosea made his debut, the 21-year-old hadn’t played in the elite competition at AAMI Park.
But Melbourne made it a night to remember, storming to a 33-14 win over the Waratahs before students from his former Melbourne school, Fountain Gate College, honoured him post match with a rousing haka from the stands.
Rebels coach Dave Wessels said the club was aiming to achieve a team of mostly Victorian talent, and was well on the way.
“There’s nine players in the squad who are from Melbourne,” Wessels said.
“That’s a hell of a number because in 2017 there was only one so we’ve gone from one to nine in the space of a few years.
“There’s a couple of guys on the fringes who are going to come through so it’s going to be really special quite soon to have a team who are going to be majority home grown which is something we’re hoping to achieve.”
Hosea was one of five Victorian players in the 2020 Wallabies squad and is hopeful of joining hooker Jordan Uelese, Reds centre Hunter Paisami and Brumbies backrower Rob Valetini in making his Test debut this season.
Rampaging Rebels prop Pone Fa’amausili is also looking to take the next step after his taste of Wallabies squad action.
Hosea has been likened to a young John Eales although he’s slightly taller than the Wallabies great at 203cm and weighing 115kg.
He leads the Super Rugby AU competition for line-out wins, while Hosea made an impression on the Waratahs with some charging runs and jarring defence.
Wessels said he’d seen huge growth in the youngster.
“Trevor has a big personality off the field and he’s a fun guy to be around and he enjoys his rugby,” Wessels said.
“You forget about how young he is – if you think about how he’s improved in the last 12 months and if we can help him do that again in the next 12 I think he could be something really special.”
Melbourne have the bye this Super Rugby AU round.