James Hanson has signed a two-year deal with Melbourne Rebels, for the 2016 and 2017 Super Rugby seasons. The Queensland Reds hooker has made 78 Super Rugby appearances since making his debut in February 2010, including the 2011 grand final victory over the Crusaders, and he has played nine Test for the Wallabies since debuting in a Bledisloe Cup draw with the All Blacks in 2012.
Rebels head coach Tony McGahan worked with Hanson during his time as the Wallabies' coaching coordinator, and he said the hooker's "excellence in the set-piece area, added to his ability to contribute to our strong playing group, is invaluable".
Hanson said he was excited about moving to Melbourne and joining the Rebels.
"While I have loved every minute I have had playing for the Reds, I believe Melbourne is the best place for me to continue to play and progress with my rugby," Hanson said. "I have aspirations to achieve success at both a club and international level, and I am confident that I will be able to realise these by moving to Melbourne and joining the Rebels. While my immediate focus is finishing the season well with the Reds, I am genuinely excited about the opportunity at the Rebels over the next few years."
Reds head coach Richard Graham said: "James and Saia Fainga'a have jostled for the starting role over the last couple of seasons. It was always going to be difficult to keep both James and Saia, especially when Saia is the incumbent Test hooker and is contracted through to the end of 2016. This opens up a great opportunity for Andrew Ready to build up a lot of experience. He's a promising young hooker who already has a taste of Super Rugby and has the next three years of his contract to build on that experience."
Hanson is a product of Brisbane's St Joseph's College Gregory Terrace and Premier Grade club University of Queensland, and he progressed through the Queensland pathway after first representing the state at Schoolboys level in 2005. He played for Melbourne in the 2007 Australian Rugby Championship and joined the Reds in 2008 as a member of their academy squad. Hanson represented Australia at Schoolboys level in 2005 and Under-20 level in 2006 and 2007, and he played alongside new Rebels teammate Mike Harris in a short stint at North Harbour in New Zealand's ITM Cup prior to making his Super Rugby debut.