Melbourne Rebels centre Billy Meakes says the side is not getting too far ahead of itself after a posting a Round 1 victory.
The Rebels, who are now in full game mode after spending the bye week training hard, will face the in-form Highlanders this Friday night in the Club’s first home match of 2019.
While the Melburnians played an exciting brand of rugby to claim victory over the Highlanders, Meakes admits the bye week will force the team to re-build the momentum which was created in Canberra two weeks ago.
Meakes says the team will have to be switched on from the first kick-off, given the quality of the opposition the Rebels will face in their second game of the season.
“A Round 1 win is ideal, it’s a great way to start the season, but we didn’t really get carried away with that and there’s obviously a long way to go in the season,” Meakes said.
“There was a lot of excitement (after the Brumbies win) and there’s a little bit of momentum, but we’ve got to kick that back up again.”
Meakes believes a key area which will help the Rebels continue on a winning path is the new style of rugby which has been drilled into the side by Head Coach Dave Wessels.
The centre says the game plan has instilled a lot of belief into the side, even though the back admits it has differed from how he was taught to play the game as a junior. “What we’re trying to do is different to everything you learn growing up,” Meakes said.
“We are trying to play extremely flat, play on top of the defence and not pull the ball back too deep.
“We took a lot of confidence from that because it’s something we’ve been working on all preseason and it seemed to work well.”
Ahead of the Rebels’ clash with the Highlanders, many rugby experts believe the gulf between New Zealand and Australian rugby is being closed after a series of favourable results to Australian teams.
While Meakes admits the Brumbies’ recent demolition of the Chiefs and the Reds almost toppling the Highlanders in Dunedin may be a sign of a competitive Australian Conference, the 28-year-old believes the New Zealand teams are still the clear benchmark of Super Rugby.
“The Brumbies result showed (maybe the gap in quality had closed) a little bit, but we can only test that ourselves on Friday night,” he said.
“The Kiwi teams have been the pinnacle of the last couple of years, so we are not going to take the Highlanders lightly.
“We are competing every day to get better, and we’ve got a huge task on our hands this Friday night.”