This week in our Citizen Watch Spending Time series, we caught up with former Rebel enforcer Adam Byrnes.
What has your post-playing career looked like?
After my time at the Rebels I played a couple more international games for Russia over in Europe and then I retired from rugby due to injuries in 2013. It was no fairy-tale ending and smooth transition in the next phase of my life for me. I was left both physically and mentally broken.
What got me through all of that was the same skill set that had worked for me in achieving everything that I did in rugby. I was always a very disciplined and committed person when it came to working towards a goal.
So, I became disciplined and committed to working on myself. This is the short version. I am more than happy to share more about my transition which was pretty awful at the time, but very beneficial and rewarding looking back on it today.
Today I am the Principal at Visa & Citizenship Lawyers, which is an immigration law firm in Surry Hills, Sydney. It took me a while to find a career away from rugby which I was just as passionate about as rugby.
Having an occupation that I am passionate about, having purpose, has really helped. So today I get to wake up and help make a difference to people's lives, I get to help people across Australia (and the world) with all visa and citizenship related issues.
A number of my clients are friends from across the years (including rugby) who for example, now have businesses wanting to sponsor visa holders or friends who have wife's who need visas to Australia.
What were some of your favourite memories during your time at AAMI Park?
For me, what stands out are the first two Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby games ever which were both home games.
Melbourne being the sporting capital of Australia, there was a lot of hype and anticipation about the city getting a Super Rugby team.
It was exciting times being a player in that first ever squad. From the pre-season camp at Lorne through to sharing a training oval and headquarters with an AFL team.
The first game was against the Waratahs and the 2nd game was against the Brumbies.
We lost the first game substantially and won the 2nd game right at the end. Both games were memorable though.
Who was your favourite teammate to play with and why?
I'm not one to single blokes out. As a past player looking back and when I get asked what I miss the most, I miss the camaraderie and feeling of teamship, being part of a collective.
The way I used to approach rugby was akin to going into battle, so I would want blokes next to me who I could rely on in battle, not just the good times. There were a number of teammates in the squad who I could rely on.
What do you miss the most about playing for the Rebels?
I have no idea what the Rebels environment has been like after those first 2 seasons that I was a part of it, but what I miss the most about my time at the Rebels was the amount of functions and events that I got to experience.
The culture that we had back then was not only relaxed about socialising but encouraged socialising.
For example I remember asking our then coach Rod McQeen if it was okay for me to miss a training session on Melbourne Cup morning so that I could attend a champagne breakfast at one of the cities 5-star hotels and then get in a helicopter to be taken out the the Melbourne Cup and into a Marquee, as part of some invitation I received. Rod smiled and said of course.
Yes, there were off course the long-lunches we used to have at the Weary Dunlop, but there also seemed to be long-lunches and dinner events every second week. It was great!
Melbourne is known for its strong coffee and cafe culture - during your playing days, where was your favourite spot to go to during a day off?
I'm more into cafe's and all that now. Back when I was at the Rebels, I didn't care much for it. I was more interested back then in pubs and clubs. We had a few regular spots in Richmond such as the Bridge Hotel.
Adam is now a highly respected immigration lawyer and can be found at http://www.visacitizenshiplawyers.com.au/