The Wallabies have wrapped up a memorable two-month home series by claiming a record fourth consecutive victory in The Rugby Championship (TRC) on Saturday.
Led by a superb hat-trick from Rebels’ star, Andrew Kellaway, Dave Rennie’s side etched their name into the history books, defeating a gallant Argentina, 32-17.
Stirring victories over the Pumas and World Champion, Springboks, have seen the Australians rocket up to number three in the World Rugby rankings for the first time since 2018.
With inconsistency having plagued the national side for several years now, this spectacular turnaround has injected a welcome dose of excitement and optimism into a proud rugby community, one which was previously starved of sustained success.
Leading the charge is the golden boy of Australian rugby, Andrew Kellaway, who has shone under Test rugby’s brightest of lights, emerging as a genuine Wallabies’ star for years to come.
In just seven appearances, the flamboyant winger has made a number of eye-catching carries on his way to scoring eight tries in what is his debut international season.
With four tests remaining, Kellaway is now within striking distance of Israel Folau’s record of 10 tries in a debut year, set in 2013.
However, his ability to impact games extends far beyond his extraordinary scoring touch, with Kellaway making several team lifting plays on the defensive end throughout the tournament.
Following his surprise promotion, Kellaway believes he’s finally found his feet after becoming an integral member of an emerging Wallabies’ side.
“For the first fifty percent of the games, I was still a little starstruck hanging out with some of the guys in the team, but I’m now getting a bit more comfortable, which is great,” said Kellaway.
“It’s been an enjoyable ride and nice to win four in a row, which hasn’t been done for some time.
The second Melbourne Rebel to make their Test debut, aged twenty-five or younger, was ‘Burn Boy, Rob Leota, who made two appearances, including a starting debut against Argentina on September 25.
Over 52 enthralling minutes, Leota exuded confidence with ball in hand, while providing a strong breakdown presence alongside Captain Michael Hooper and Rebels’ teammate, Matt Philip.
The ever-reliable Philip played every match of the TRC, providing great value with world class ball carrying and set piece abilities.
Another Rebel to feature in all six Tests was rugby’s ‘Mr. Versatile’, Reece Hodge, who provided crucial late game support in the Wallabies’ opening four matches.
A Round 5 promotion to fullback saw the Manly product produce his strongest performance of the TRC, showcasing his exceptional ball-in-hand skills, while running for 61 metres and scoring an early first-half try.
The twenty-seven-year-old also became the first player to make 50 appearances for both the Melbourne Rebels and the Wallabies, after beginning his professional career back in 2016.
A combined 543 points later, Hodge admitted to still pinching himself at the opportunity to live out his boyhood dream.
“It’s just a massive honour for myself and my family, every time I get to pull on the gold jersey,” said Hodge.
“Growing up as a kid watching the golden era of Australian rugby, just dreaming to get to wear the green and gold one day, it’s been fantastic.
“To do it fifty times is something pretty special and something myself and my family will hopefully get to look back at down the track and be very proud of.”
Reigning Players’ Player recipient, Marika Koroibete, enjoyed another impressive TRC campaign, making five appearances across the six-week tournament.
Koroibete scored a double in the second Test against the Springboks, on the way to helping the Wallabies claim the Mandela Plate.
Meanwhile, Rebels’ skipper, Matt To’omua and Jordan Uelese, were also called upon during the Wallabies’ opening game against the All-Blacks at Eden Park on August 14, continuing their close involvement with the national side.
Despite a challenging opening two games, it’s been a TRC campaign to remember for the Australian rugby community, and one which will have Rebels’ fans gripped with excitement with Super Rugby Pacific now just four months away.
In the meantime, the Wallabies will now shift their attention to the upcoming Spring Tour, beginning on October 23 against Japan.
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