There will be no bad blood from ex-Rebels teammates towards Jack Maddocks when he returns to Melbourne with the Waratahs on Friday, according to Billy Meakes.
Maddocks spent three seasons with the Rebels but suddenly departed the club over summer to return home to Sydney and, in a deal struck only weeks out from the start of Super Rugby, then joined the Waratahs.
With negotiations between the Rebels, the Waratahs and Rugby Australia ongoing since well before Christmas, Maddocks did not even return to Melbourne over the pre-season and the 22-year-old told the Daily Telegraph he didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to many at the Rebels.
Maddocks started off the bench for the Waratahs in the first two games but the seven-cap Wallaby has been named to make his first run-on start on Friday night against his former team at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Asked if it would be a fiery welcome by the Rebels given Maddocks’ desire to leave Melbourne, centre Billy Meakes said there was no ill-will harboured by anyone.
"I don’t think it will be fiery, Jack Maddocks is loved by the group here,” Meakes said.
"He is a great character and I am super happy for Jack. He obviously wanted to go home and he has ended up at the Tahs, which is great for him. It will be enjoyable playing against him on Friday and I am definitely keen to catch up after.”
Maddocks revealed on Friday that his urge to return to Sydney was driven by a desire to be closer to his Sydney-based partner, and closer to his mother after his parents split up.
Meakes said the Rebels would have to pay special attention to Maddocks but based purely on his talent and threat.
"He is an unbelievable player, we will definitely have to an eye on him,” Meakes said.
"He has done some great things here in Melbourne and I am sure he will be looking to go one step further at the Tahs there, so we will have to keep an eye on him. He is a world-class player.”
Meakes said he was pleased to be partnering up with giant young centre Campbell Magnay, who will start at no.13; and push Wallaby Reece Hodge onto the wing as a result.
"Big bad Campbell, he is a huge man. He is about 110kg and six-foot-whatever, so its always nice having a big guy like that outside you,” Meakes said.
"He has been working really hard, because he came off a foot injury, and was just grinding in rehab there for the first part of the pre-season and he has developed really well.
"He is obviously still young but he has a loud voice, he is a big boy and he prides himself on defence, so it’s nice to have someone outside you like that.”
The Rebels are celebrating their tenth season on Friday night, up against the same team that they played first in Super Rugby back in 2011: the Waratahs.