Winger Andrew Kellaway is looking to prove his worth as a Wallaby following his breakout start in the first Bledisloe Test
Kellaway was one of the standouts in the 33-25 loss to the All Blacks, crossing for the first try of the game.
For the 25-year-old, the start caps a whirlwind month for the Rebel after his return from stints in the UK and Japan.
Kellaway decided to head to Northampton in 2018 after an interrupted period with the Waratahs due to injuries.
He would return to Australia and the Rebels in 2020, ending as the leading Super Rugby try-scorer before the COVID-shutdown.
He eventually made the call to head to Japan for a brief period, returning to Melbourne at the back-end of Trans-Tasman.
Kellaway admits the decision to head overseas transformed his career.
“I was injured for my past two seasons with the Waratahs. I broke my foot and then my throat so I didn’t play a lot of footy. I think that impacted where I sat with the hierarchy that exists there with players and if I’m honest, the writing was on the well there," he explained on Monday to reporters.
“Leaving was about getting more game time and the thing popped up with the (Northampton) Saints and Rob Horne, Taqele Naiyaravoro were heading there for the Waratahs.
“For me, it was probably the smartest move and I look back now and it’s the best thing I ever did.”
Whilst many Australians head overseas and all but concede their Wallaby dream could be over, it always seemed like destiny to Kellaway in his own 'strange and twisted way.'
The desire to return home built off this belief and proving to everyone he was good enough, in particular to himself.
“If you grow up and play Rugby, you want to be a Wallaby. If anyone says otherwise, I don’t want to call them a liar but they are not fair off,” he said.
“Circumstances affect things differently. Some guys go and are never going to be a Wallaby or in the mix and make a great career for themselves and make a lot of cash. Some of my friends are doing that and I am very happy to see that for them and I’m happy for them.
“For me, in the back of my head I always knew in my own strange and twisted way that I thought I was good enough to be a Wallaby and coming home was as much about proving that to myself as it was to every else.
“...On the Wallaby front, it was definitely about proving I was good enough and hopefully I’m one step closer."
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This has well and truly been fulfilled as Kellaway has featured in three out of the four Tests in 2021, capped with his first start last Saturday.
He believes it shows to players plying their trade overseas the value of returning home, suggesting they can provide crucial experience and guidance to help the next generation of players.
“We talk about why and that’s changed in recent times. If I’m honest, if I was to come back and not make the most of this opportunity, that might deter guys from coming home. A lot of this now is proving to guys if you are overseas, you can come home and there’s a place for you because we want them back in Australia,” he believes.
“There’s some great kids coming through Super Rugby but the reality of it is without that experience coming back, we’re going to struggle.
“It’s about showing to a couple of guys there’s still plenty to do when they come back.”