A taste of the Wallabies environment has given Nic Stirzaker an extra source of motivation ahead of the 2017 Super Rugby season.
Stirzaker, who will captain the Rebels for the second year, was part of the Wallabies fold late last year when in camp with the Wallaby XV during the Spring Tour.
“It was awesome just to be a part of it and get a taste, (to) get a look at the French Test match in Paris was awesome and northern hemisphere rugby and the way they support the game over there is amazing, the crowds and the intensity of the atmosphere and that sort of stuff,” he said.
“It was really cool to be a part of a Test match prep and that sort of stuff, it was good.
“It's a good little taste to then try and push on this year and hopefully get more of a shot.” - Nic Stirzaker
Injuries halted Stirzaker’s development in 2016, as he battled to regain the form that had him in Test contention in 2015, but this year, he will come into the Rebels’ preseason at full fitness.
The same can’t be said for a number of his teammates, including star backrower Sean McMahon, who is still recovering from ankle surgery, while three other Rebels are unavailable.
Despite the injury tally, Stirzaker said he wasn’t worried about a repeat of last season, where the Rebels had to call on teenagers to play Super Rugby when they were crippled with injuries.
“It's pretty normal,” he said.
“We've only got a couple of guys who are out and some of those are long-term from last year and that sort of thing, so I think we're tracking really well on that front.”
The Rebels play a trial on the Gold Coast on Monday agains the Force, before their focus switches to the Brisbane Tens, kicking off the following Saturday.
Tens will be a new format for the Rebels and Stirzaker admitted they’d be learning on the run, with a fitness test the major benefit of the truncated format.
“We’ve been focusing on the XVs but we've got our trial on Monday against the Force and then we'll figure it out during the week and go from there,” he said.
“It'll be a bit of fun and I think it'll be pretty tiring, good for the lungs before the season starts.”
The Rebels take on the Force at Bond University on Monday night, kicking off at 6:30pm AEDT.