Rebels’ Burgess signs with Italian club

Melbourne Rebels halfback Luke Burgess will leave for Europe at the end of the Super Rugby season after signing with Italian club Zebres.

The 31-year-old Wallaby has signed a deal until 2017, ruling him out of World Cup contention.

Burgess, who has 37 Test caps, played with French club Toulouse for three years before linking with the Rebels in 2014.

He has played mostly off the bench, with Nic Stirzaker in the starting No.9 jersey.

While based in Parma, the Zebres play in the Guinness Pro12 and the Heineken Cup.

Burgess said he spoke to Rebels assistant coach Craig McGrath, who has played in Italy, about the move.

“I know firsthand the passion that exists in Italian Rugby,” Burgess told website

“Playing against the Italian XV on two occasions Padua and Florence showed me what a committed and voracious respect Italians have for rugby.”

Burgess will replace former New Zealand halfback Brendon Leonard and link with another former All Black, Mils Muliaina, who has also signed a one-year deal with the club.

Burgess is expected to arrive in Italy in August.

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