Geoff Parling will join the Rebels next year.
Geoff Parling will join the Rebels next year. Ross Setford

Ex-England international to boost Rebels' stocks

THE Melbourne Rebels have pulled off a recruitment coup with the signing of former England and British and Irish Lions lock Geoff Parling for the 2018 Super Rugby season.

Parling, a 32-Test veteran, was a key member of the Exeter side that won the 2017 English Premiership title for the first time last month.

Parling's signature is the first announced by an Australian Super Rugby club since the ARU lifted the moratorium on player contracting.

It is also a sign of faith in the Rebels future given the ARU has said either the Melbourne club or the Force will be cut next season.

"Geoff's signing is a strategic recruitment for the club as we look to evolve our squad and program for 2018 and beyond," Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson said.

"Geoff boasts a wealth of international and domestic experience in successful rugby programs so he will contribute to the strong leadership at the club, along with his world class lineout skills and hard running qualities which will complement our squad."

Parling, 33, has over 250 games of domestic experience with Newcastle (2003-09), where he won the players' player award in 2005-06, before he joined Leicester (2009-15) and then Exeter (2015-17).

The 1.99m, 117kg lock made his Test debut for England in 2012 and was a member of the 2013 Lions team that beat Australia 2-1.

"After some really enjoyable years in the Premiership, I'm excited about the opportunity to test myself in the Southern Hemisphere that Super Rugby brings," Parling said.

"Hopefully I can add value to the Rebels, and help the team continue the great growth and profile of rugby in Victoria."