For Rebels wing Stacey Ili, 2021 provided one of the most unforgettable years of his professional playing career.
Fresh off playing club rugby back home in New Zealand, the 30-year-old travelled to Melbourne in January, making his Super Rugby debut in the Rebels’ Round 1 Super Rugby AU clash with the Queensland Reds.
Following a memorable maiden Super Rugby campaign – one which included a RUPA Newcomer of the Year nomination and scoring the Rebels fastest ever try – Ili would go on to make his international debut for Samoa against Tonga on July 10.
Rebels Media spoke to the popular Clubman on the year that was, and what’s driving him in 2022.
Have you had a chance to reflect on your whirlwind year?
“Yeah, it’s been an incredible 12 months, where I received opportunities, I never thought I would reach, but where I was able to showcase my talent and hard work to the rugby world.”
“It was a dream come true playing Super Rugby and getting to represent Samoa with a new coaching staff and an awesome culture.
“Then heading back home to play club rugby and connect with family was really special, but now we’re back in Melbourne and we’re really excited for 2022 playing in Burn City.”
What were your learnings from this year’s Test season and how do you think this experience will benefit you in next year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign?
“The whole experience motivated me and fuelled my fire to push for the next World Cup, which would be a good achievement for myself and my family.”
“The speed of the game and the focus was next level, so it will be good to bring that back to the Rebels and have another crack next year.
“My family have been great supporters of me this year. They’re very proud – a bit sick of the travel and lockdowns, but still happy and I’m looking forward to spending the holidays with them and seeing a few sights across Melbourne.”
What’s driving Stacey Ili in 2022?
“What’s driving me is attaining success with the Rebels – we all know what to expect now and we want to do well for this great city, so my focus is just playing good rugby in Melbourne and pushing for the finals.
To watch Stacey and the boys push for finals contention, click here and become a Rebels member today!