Although the Bledisloe Cup will remain in New Zealand for another year, the third and final Test at a packed Optus Stadium this Sunday will be far from a dead rubber.
Rebels’ pair Andrew Kellaway and Reece Hodge have only played two matches together so far, this international season, but loom as key contributors for Dave Rennie’s side ahead of the final five games of The 2021 Rugby Championship.
Speaking on the Rebels recent Lockdown Love Live, Kellaway admitted his seemingly abrupt rise to international rugby stardom still hasn’t hit home just yet.
“I don’t think this stuff ever sinks in, but it’s been a great couple of weeks and I’m loving every minute of it,” Kellaway said.
“Two months ago, I probably thought I’d be on holiday at the moment, so I’m just trying to make the most of this opportunity.”
Despite the fact Kellaway grew up in Sydney, the Victorian community has rallied around him like one of their own since his surprise return to The Stockade this past June.
Kellaway has repaid this faith by reeling off a hat-trick of strong performances for the Wallabies, something which he credits to the support he’s received from his ‘Super Rugby home.’
“To see firstly, the amount of support that’s come through, but secondly where it’s come from has been really humbling."
“To see all the support coming from Melbourne, it's such a cool thing for me because it’s somewhere I really consider home at the moment.”
After returning from an MCL injury, Rebels’ utility Reece Hodge was thrown straight into the deep end that is international football, returning for the Wallabies’ winner-takes-all third Test against France.
“The body is actually feeling really good at the moment. Whilst I’d love to be starting, it’s probably been good for the body to ease back into some footy,” Hodge said.
“I’ve been at a place in the last month where I feel in a good spot to play some more minutes.
“I’m feeling very fresh, not having the rigours of the last three months of a Super Rugby season, which probably has stood me in good stead.”
However, the opportunity of playing international Rugby isn’t the only thing exciting Hodge, following the Rebels’ recent off-season signings.
“Some exciting talent is obviously coming down to Melbourne, which is fantastic. I was speaking to Footey and he’s really excited for Lucas to come down - he’ll be a massive addition to the backline."
“I speak on behalf of all the Rebels’ boys in camp here by saying that we were all really impressed with the academy boys when they came into training a couple of times throughout the Super Rugby season.
“Just how enthusiastic they were in terms of wanting to learn and wanting to impress whenever they got the chance at training.
“They’ll be a massive addition to the squad in 2022, and no doubt they’re all wanting to be the next Jordan Uelese and Rob Leota.”