Disbelief turns to relief for Powell

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Last year, Joe Powell’s reaction to being selected in a Wallabies squad was disbelief.

On Tuesday, the Brumbies scrumhalf felt more relief than shock, that he was named alongside Will Genia and Nick Phipps for the June Series.

“I think everyone was geeing me up for a while saying I was going to be in it, so it was a bit of a releif to finally see that I was in it, because it would’ve been a bit embarrassing if I didn’t get there, so it was definitely a relief to be in the squad last night.

Though he’s no bolt from the blue this time around, Powell feels he partly owes another Test shot to a cruel twist of fate that saw incumbent Brumbies starter Tomas Cubelli injured in the preseason.

Had Cubelli not been sitting out for the first half of the year, Powell conceded he would probably be on his way to Melbourne next week, with the emergence of Waratahs youngster Jake Gordon.

“If Tomas wasn’t injured at the start of the year, I don’t think there was any chance I would’ve been in this squad,” he said.

“Jake Gordon’s been playing really well and he would’ve got the jump on me had I not been starting the games this year.”

With just two years until the 2019 World Cup, the Japan tournament is in Powell's sights, but the Canberra product said he wasn't preoccupied by any bigger picture.

"Definitely it’s a goal for everyone," he said.

"Maybe it’s becoming a bit more realistic but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

"I haven’t played a game for the Wallabies, I’ve only just started playing for the Brumbies so don’t want to get ahead of myself."

First though, the Brumbies are looking at trying to string their third straight win together, and even up their 2017 ledger against the Rebels.

The Brumbies are the only team to have lost to the Rebels this season, going down to the last-place Australian side at AAMI Park, in a hyper-emotional week, playing only days after their opponents found out they might be cut from Super Rugby.

Powell said the side was still smarting after that defeat, and looking for some vengeance in their final 2017 home game.

“I think we’re still hurting from the last time the Rebels beat us,” he said.

“I think that was a massive upset and we were pretty disappointed with how we played that game.

“We’re really wanting to get the win this weekend and I think that’s really driving all the boys this week.”

Winger Henry Speight said they would have their own dose of emotion this weekend, with Ben Alexander set to break the club’s games record, held by George Smith.

“The last time we played them they hadn’t won a game and there was a lot of talk about which franchise would be cut, there was a lot of emotion, a centurion playing for them that weekend,” he said.

“For us it’s making sure we nail this game before the June break and there’ll be a bit of emotion for us too, with Ben Alexander possibly becoming our most-capped Brumby.

“We’d like to reward him with a win because he deserves it.”

A victory would likely seal the Australian conference lead for the Brumbies, who lead by nine points, with just two games left after the June break.