Meakes welcomes To'omua with open arms

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rebels centre Billy Meakes could arguably have been one of those with the most to lose after the arrival of new recruit Matt To’omua.

To’omua shapes as a 10/12 option for the Rebels and though he won’t be eligible for finals should they make it, the Wallaby will be adding to the intense competition in the Rebels’ star-studded backs.

Instead of any frostiness, though, Meakes has welcomed the new face straight into the Rebels group and into their social golfing crew this week.

“We played a bit of golf with him yesterday, introduced him to the local goat track we get to down there,” Meakes said.

“He actually took Hodgey’s (Reece Hodge) spot in our four-ball that we usually play. We will see how that plays out.

“It’s good to have him around the club. He obviously has a wealth of knowledge in Super Rugby and at Test level, and he has obviously played in the premiership for a small amount of time.

“To have him here, in and amongst the group, pushing for spots, and just his presence around the group, is great.

To’omua is set to come off the bench against the Bulls on Friday night, adding cover for flyhalf Quade Cooper as well as Meakes in the centres.

The Rebels will come into the match with some confidence after edging out the Reds at home last weekend and Meakes said he felt they were starting to return to the core of their style.

“We feel like we have come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“We feel like the back end of the Hurricanes game and then the Reds game in patches, we have really started finding our identity again as a team.”

Meakes said if they could keep progressing in that way against the Bulls, they would be finding the right type of rugby at the back end of the season.

“We feel like we’re trying to get back to the way we can play,” he said.

“When we play the style of rugby we want to, and we’re playing it well, I feel like we are pretty hard to beat.”

The Rebels’ inside backs will have a big challenge against the super-sized Bulls midfield of Burger Odendaal and Johnny Kotze.

“The first thing you have to do is acknowledge what they’re going to do and physicality is a big part of that,” Meakes said.

“We have to counter that.”

The Rebels take on the Bulls on Friday May 17, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports and via RADIO. Buy tickets here.