Rebels centre Billy Meakes spent too much of 2018 preoccupied by his Wallabies aspirations and he’s determined not to do the same this year.
While the Rugby World Cup is a carrot at the end of this season, Meakes said he was putting all of his focus on Super Rugby first after missing out on his goal last year by simply looking too far ahead.
“I did a big reflection at the end of last season and was probably just focusing on what was next after Super Rugby and thinking about that Wallaby mix a little bit too much and for me, if you peel it all back you’ve got to be selected first for the Rebels and then you’ve got to be playing well week in, week out and that stuff takes care of itself,” he said.
“For me, it’s just peeling everything back, concentrating on making the team for the Rebels, playing well here and if that stuff happens it happens.
“I had a goal at the start of the year that I wanted to play for the Wallabies and be all and end all is I didn’t play for the Wallabies,” he said.
“So, you’ve got to be pretty harsh on yourself, you’ve got to reflect pretty hard and then you’ve got to reset goals, figure out how you’re going to get there and that’s the plan I’ve come up with and how I’m going to move forward.”
Competition for spots at the Rebels will not be easing anytime soon with lock Adam Coleman (calf) and Reece Hodge (ankle) set to return to the side this weekend.
“Well, (Hodge’s) fit and available and he’s been training really well and obviously Adam comes back in the mix as well,” Meakes said.
“If our team’s going to do well this year we need world-class players like them playing in the squad.
“They’ve been training really well and they’re ready to go so interesting for Dave (Wessels), a lot of selection headaches there but probably good for our team that they’re back and ready to see them back on Friday night if they get picked.”
If Hodge comes straight into the starting side, he would likely team up with Meakes in the centres against the Highlanders on Friday night.
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Meakes was impressive in the Rebels’ week one win over the Brumbies and said he was benefitting from stringing a full preseason together after a number of injury-affected years.
“I’ve probably just had a better preseason or a longer one than I’ve had in the past,” he said.
“I haven’t had a proper preseason for a couple of years now.
“It’s been nice to actually have a full block just working on my body and that was something that I reflected on the back end of last year, that I wasn’t probably fit enough to last the full 80 and play at my best and then that top end speed as you spoke about.
“That’s something I’ve been working really hard with the S&C staff with and hopefully starting to see the benefits of it now.”
The Rebels take on the Highlanders on Friday March 1, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.