A regular match day inclusion for the Rising this season was Melbourne Unicorn flyer William Lewesi.
The Fijian flyer backed up an impressive Dewar Shield campaign, headlined by another premiership trophy, with an NRC season that saw him play in all seven rounds of the season.
Despite having the privilege of lacing up the boots every weekend, Lewesi couldn’t help but feel as though there were ulterior motives to his continued selection.
“I was asked to bring my clippers to all the games so the boys could get a haircut,” laughed Lewesi.
And he did; ensuring the team were always preened for their appearances on the small screen.
“I didn't get paid; except by Pom (Simona).”
The first year Rising coach would go on to support Lewesi in more important ways as the outside centre quickly adapted to the more challenging environment that is the NRC.
“Coach (Pom) called me and told me that I made 2019 NRC squad,” recalls Lewesi.
“He made me push myself to be a better rugby player and better my skills moving forward in my rugby career, and if we didn't know what we were doing or made any mistakes we got taught on the spot how to do it right.”
As Lewesi and his predominantly amateur team mates became more attuned to the expectations of the Rising’s coaching staff, the on-field results started to turn a corner.
“Training in the NRC is more professional. It’s compulsory for everyone to be in full Melbourne Rising Kit and everything we do is planned and on time.
“As for club rugby, everyone isn't as serious about rugby with training and turning up on time or even coming to training.
“NRC games are more structured and every single player on or off the field has a job to do as an individual player and as a member of the team,” observed Lewesi.
Despite going agonisingly close to cementing a spot in the finals, Lewesi’s sees his experience in the 2019 squad as the perfect springboard for next season.
“For 2020, I'm aiming to take another step higher in NRC and even Super Rugby,” admitted Lewesi.
“I would like to push myself and aim for highest spot in rugby I can reach.”