The appointment of new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie gave fringe Australian players hope national honours was within reach and Joe Powell wants to take advantage.
Fresh off winning the Super Rugby AU title with the Brumbies, where Powell was the preferred halfback over incumbent Wallaby Nic White, the 26-year-old was surprised to be named in Rennie’s 44-man Wallabies squad.
Powell, who will switch from the Brumbies to join the Melbourne Rebels next year, made the last of his four Test appearances in 2018, and wasn’t expecting to be in the Wallabies selection mix for Bledisloe Cup clashes against New Zealand on October 11 (Wellington) and October 18 (Auckland).
Powell said Rennie’s appointment gave fringe players plenty of hope to be part of a new era for the Wallabies.
“With any new coach, everyone’s trying to put their hand up and perform the best … so it’s exciting and refreshing times to see some new blood in the squad,” he said.
“Hopefully get an opportunity in the next couple of weeks.”
Powell is one of four halfbacks – the others being White, the Reds’ Tate McDermott and the Waratahs’ Jake Gordon – currently in camp in New Zealand.
“I thought I might have been playing around in club footy for the rest of the year, so it was definitely really exciting times to get the call up to the squad,” 26-year-old Powell said
“It’s definitely something that I don’t take for granted.
“It was probably a tough season. Sometimes I was in and out of the (Brumbies) team so it was tough but what I try to do every year is be consistent with how I approach the game.
“Part of my game is allowing the players around me to have a good game as well. In that respect we had a good year and there are definitely things to work on and ways of imposing myself more as well.”
Powell said his desire to return to the Wallabies fold was a key reason he joined the Rebels rather than head to an overseas club.
“Playing for the Wallabies is a huge part of why players want to stay in Australian rugby,” he said.
“I wanted to exhaust my options here before I looked overseas.
“I’m definitely happy that the Rebels were there to give me an opportunity to continue to play in Australia.”
Powell said leaving the Brumbies had been a tough decision.
“(But) it was a good opportunity for myself … a new environment, new coaching, good timing in my playing career to keep growing,” he said.
“It’s a good group down there and I’m excited to be a part of it.”