When Billy Meakes returned to Australia and signed for the Western Force a month ago, his mind was set on having an impact at Super Rugby level.
That was until he received a phone call from Michael Cheika, who informed him he was in the Wallabies train-on squad ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney on August 20.
It is unheard of for a player who has not played Super Rugby to be included in a Wallabies squad and while he may not make the final cut, Meakes is still pinching himself.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I’m stoked,” Meakes said.
“It is only the first step, but just to be in the system and be among those type of players and staff and coaches … you can’t ask for much more to be honest.”
The 25-year-old, who has signed a two-year deal with the Force, looked to have been lost to Australian rugby when he moved to England three years ago after failing to secure a Super Rugby contract.
The former Australian under-20 and sevens representative had been in the Waratahs academy and played Shute Shield for Randwick, but took a gamble and joined English national league division two club Clifton in Bristol.
He was spotted by former Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher, in charge of premiership club Gloucester, was offered a contract and went on to win a European Challenge Cup medal.
“I was lucky to pick up a really good opportunity with Gloucester, but playing Super Rugby was always a goal for me,” Meakes said. “I knew I had some unfinished business in Australia, but never dreamt this would happen.
“Playing in England was definitely a turning point, but it looks like I made the right decision to come back.
“I wasn’t quite sure what to do when the offer from the Force came up, but this has cemented it. It has all happened pretty quickly.
“Cheika said he had been checking my progress overseas and had been in touch with a few people. He was extremely complimentary and invited me to see what I was all about.”