Melbourne Rebels centre Billy Meakes has declared his side primed to embrace the challenges life on the road will present.
The Rebels were forced to relocate to Canberra last week, and a surge in Victoria’s Covid-19 cases means there is no set date for the team’s return home.
But Meakes dismissed suggestions the travel and uncertainty has been a distraction ahead of their Super Rugby AU season opener against the Brumbies.
“I don’t know if there’s too much concern at the moment.
“I’d probably say the overriding emotion at the moment is excitement about playing.
“Obviously there’s a bit of uncertainty around where we will be in the coming weeks but one thing that is certain is we’re playing the Brumbies on Saturday night here in Canberra.
“So super excited to be back out there again, playing Super Rugby.
“The Rebels aren’t the only Melbourne-based sporting club forced to relocate interstate in recent weeks due to coronavirus concerns.
Fellow AAMI Park residents the Melbourne Storm have set up camp on the Sunshine Coast after playing a home game in Sydney last weekend.
“You can definitely look at those teams because the Storm have been on the road for a little while now and obviously seen a bit of success on the road.
“It’s out of our hands at the moment.
“I suppose safety is the number one priority for everyone in the competition and just trying to make sure we can get back on the pitch and get this Super Rugby firing.”
The moment Meakes and his teammates have all been waiting for will come on Saturday night, when they run out onto GIO Stadium.
The centre is preparing for a difficult battle with the Brumbies’ impressive midfield, in particular number 12 Irae Simone.
Simone was a regular starter for Dan McKellar’ men before the Super Rugby season was suspended back in March.
“I rate Irae very highly, he’s obviously a little bit younger than me but we both came from the same club team in Sydney.
“He’s playing in a really strong Brumbies team and he’s really impressed me.
“It’s always nice playing against good players because it brings out the best in yourself.”
Meakes believes Saturday night’s derby is a prime opportunity for players to state their claim for Wallabies’ selection.
“It’s almost like a trial every week playing against your direct competition for jerseys at the national level.Every single week you’re playing against Australian players … a strong run of form can definitely put you in contention.”
The 29-year old hasn’t spoken to new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie but revealed he has been in close contact with national attack coach Scott Wisemantel.
“It’s probably the most communication I’ve had in the last year.
“They’ve given me lots of stuff to work on whilst also helping me improve my game, telling me what I’m good at and maybe what I could be working on.
“It’s obviously always nice to hear from the top and I know they’re communicating with our coaches on the regular as well.”
Meakes wore the gold jersey for a match against the Barbarians in 2017 but is yet to earn his maiden international cap.
He admits representing the Wallabies remains motivating personal goal.
“For me all I’ve ever wanted to do was play for the Wallabies and it’s still all I want to do.
“I’ll be doing my best and everything I can to get there again.
“Fingers crossed I can play as well as I want to and that will take care of itself.”