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Talented lock Josh Canham joins Reds after ‘sad’ end to Rebels career

By Finn Morton
Josh Canham of the Rebels during the round 13 Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and Chiefs at AAMI Park, on May 17, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

American-born lock Josh Canham will make the move north from Melbourne to Brisbane after signing a two-year deal with the Queensland Reds. The 23-year-old is coming off three strong seasons of growth with the Rebels in Super Rugby.

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Canham has shown plenty of potential during a promising career to date. The product out of Melbourne’s Harlequins Rugby Club and Brighton Grammar School was picked in the Junior Wallabies’ squad a few years ago and has continued to soar since.

The second rower debuted for the Melbourne Rebels in their round three loss to the Fijian Dura in 2022 and went on to start six of 10 matches throughout that campaign. Canham started in all 10 appearances that season and continued to impress in 2024.

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In the Rebels’ final season in Super Rugby Pacific, Canham only came off the bench twice. Coach Kevin Foote preferred to play the youngster at loosehead lock during the opening four rounds before shifting him to the No. 5 jumper.

But after the Rebels played their final match, Canham had to find another side to continue his rugby development. Canham, who already plays his senior club rugby on the Gold Coast, believes the Reds were the right club to take that next step with.

“The Reds’ style of play suits me. What I see is a fast, skilful game, especially with the way the forwards and backs connect. I look forward to being a part of it,” Canham said in a statement.

“I talked to players and the coaches and all the things I’ve heard are that it’s a good environment to work in.

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“(Former Wallaby) Scott Higginbotham was my favourite player growing up so, yeah, I do love to throw an offload or two,” he added.

The 2.02m lock shared a heartfelt message on Instagram after the Rebels’ loss to the Hurricanes in the Super Rugby Pacific quarter-finals. “Forever grateful for @melbournerebels helping live out my dream,” the youngster wrote.

One of the images that Canham included was a picture with Scott Higginbotham – the same player he’d described as his “favourite player growing up.” But the message of the post certainly hit home as the next chapter waited to be written.

Following in the footsteps of other great Reds players including Higginbottom, James Horwill and plenty more, Canham will continue to represent Victoria while running out in a Reds jersey from next season.

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“It’s a weird one. It’s almost like having a little break-up because of the relationships and friendships I had at that club,” Canham reflected.

“It’s obviously sad but Australia’s other Super Rugby teams are going to be better and also more competitive against Kiwi teams.

“I’ll still be representing Victorian rugby in a sense. It doesn’t matter where you play, you are representing.”

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