Rebels outside back Lachie Anderson admits he's looking forward to solely focusing on a 15-a-side game after a 'challenging' experience trying to manage his Olympic Sevens ambitions.
Anderson split his time between the Rebels and the Sevens program, eventually selected for the Tokyo squad which finished seventh.
The 24-year-old concedes trying to balance both was a draining experience both physically and mentally given the extreme and 'different' demands of both formats.
“I think last year for myself on an individual level, having a foot in both camps with the Sevens and being full-time down here was quite tough mentally and physically,” he told Rugby.com.au.
“It’s quite challenging to be in both formats of the game when I believe they’re very different these days.
“For me, being able to secure my short-term future here in Melbourne is massive. I know where my home is going to be for the next few years so I’m very excited to keep learning and growing here in Melbourne.
“To be fully focused on what’s in front of me for the next few years, it’s only going to help and what the club’s building and heading, it’s nice to know I want to be a part of that and potentially be a part of the Rebels winning their first Super Rugby title.
“I’ve really enjoyed having another full pre-season under my belt being fully focused, knowing what I have to work on as a player to grow and enjoying what the 15s side of the things has to offer.”
With his future settled in Melbourne until 2023, Anderson was eager to pick the brains of returning Wallabies Andrew Kellaway and Reece Hodge as he looks to cement his spot in a strong back three for the Rebels.
“As a club we’re very lucky to have Hodgey and (Andrew) Kellaway come back from great Wallabies seasons. They’ve come back and shared their experiences with us and while it’s about building combinations, it’s also about building depth and challenging one another,” he believes.
“Those two are obviously in our back three but we have some great depth there in Glen Vaihu, Joe Pincus, Illy Vudogo who are some great athletes and will play a big role in that part of this year. It’s our jobs at training to keep pushing them as well. When you grow that competition and depth, it brings the whole team up.
“Those guys are world-class players so we’re very fortunate to have them in Melbourne and have those blokes sitting in the room whilst you are doing your analysis with all the experience they have between them helps someone like me grow as a player and accelerates that process.
“You look at someone like Hodge and he’s the ultimate professional the way he prepares for training, games and on his off times when no one is watching, he sets an excellent example.
“You then have Kells who has played Rugby in four different countries, he’s got plenty of experience so to pick his brain about how he sees the game is completely different to Reece."
After a tough and longer than usual pre-season block, the Rebels made the unique decision to schedule a trial against the Waratahs just days before the Christmas break, eventually running out 35-14 victors.
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Anderson suggests the decision was huge for a squad still looking to experiment with their gameplan under a fresh coaching staff, including new attacking coach Ryan Martin.
“The trial against the Waratahs was huge for us," he added.
"When you have a longer training block, you can fall into your rhythm of week-to-week training but for us, we’ve had a new attack coach in Ryan Martin come in who’s implemented a lot of our structures and our key points in attack that we worked on for 12 weeks before that trial.
“It really gave us a chance to use a lot of those structures and see what’s working and what isn’t and give a lot of boys who have been training hard now for weeks some valuable minutes.
"I think this year especially, everyone’s depth is going to be tested so a match like that early days in the pre-season block you get a lot out of….we used that as a great tool pre-Christmas.”