Wallabies lock Matt Philip has committed his immediate future with Melbourne Rebels and Rugby Australia after signing a two-and-a-half-year deal.
The 27-year-old already played for Rebels between 2018 and 2020 following which he shifted to French club Pau but now will return back to the Melbourne based club ahead of the 2022 season.
"I’m looking forward to giving something back to the club. Without the Rebels and the people involved in the environment, I definitely wouldn’t be in the position I am today. I want to achieve some club goals and bring home some silverware," Philip said in a statement.
“The Top 14 has been a great opportunity for growth both on-and-off the field. A lot of games are in cold, wet weather and against some big bodies so as a tight five forward, it’s definitely helped me improve and grow my game.
“France has obviously been in lockdown since I arrived, so this has forced me to also develop and mature, becoming a more well-rounded person off the field"
Philip made his international debut for Australia in 2017 and has gone on to play nine Tests including four games in the last year's Rugby Championship tournament.
“I feel like I’ve only just gotten started within the Wallabies environment. I have a lot to give so if provided the opportunity I won’t take a backwards step," he added.
“Playing for your country and representing your family is one of the best feelings I have had as a person to date.
“I have worked hard on bringing a level of consistency to my game with my carries, my set-piece and my engine around the field. I hope this will put me in good stead come selection time".
Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels welcomed Philip back to the club.
“It’s fantastic to have Matt coming home. He’s a great person to have around the club and will be an important leader around the group," he said.
“He’s a very competitive guy and works extremely hard at his game. We are proud of the progress he’s made over the last few years and look forward to seeing him continue to grow on the road ahead.”
Rugby Australia Director of Rugby Scott Johnson said Philip's return back to Australia will boost the options as they look to build towards the 2023 World Cup.
“It will be great to have Matt back in Australia. He was a standout for the Wallabies last year and has grown as a player during his brief stint in France.
“Matt’s return will add further competition to our second-row stocks this year and as we keep on the journey to the Rugby World Cup in 2023.
“Matt is one of a number of overseas-based Australians who are interested in returning home.
"Each has said they want to play in our Super Rugby competition and are desperate to pull on the Gold jersey.
“They know what we’re building ahead of the World Cup in France and the level of talent in this current group".