ONE player who probably will not feel the heat at the Albury Sportsground tomorrow as much as some of the other players is Rebels five-eighth Angus Roberts.
Roberts, 23, came off the land at Gunnedah in central NSW and started playing rugby at the age of seven with the Red Devils, in the Central North zone.
So he knows all about heat, although he did leave home to board at St Ignatius College, Riverview, at the start of year seven — meaning NSW Country Rugby Union had lost another promising player to the “smoke”.
“I grew up on the back of a hay truck and there were a few times it was 50 degrees on the truck, so I should be able to handle the heat up there pretty well,” he said.
He played two years with the Riverview first XV before heading to England for a year and when he returned to Sydney his rugby career started to head in the right direction.
“I was playing with Sydney University but was in touch with the Rebels coach at that time, Damien Hill, and recruitment manager Sam Cordingly,” he said.
“I ended up going to Melbourne at the end 2012 and started playing with the Rebels last year.”
Roberts said it was not a big culture shock moving to Melbourne.
“I was a bit fortunate in that I had a couple of options, I was speaking to the Waratahs and the Western Force,” he said.
“But at the time I was pleased with the Melbourne program, there was a great atmosphere with the guys and I knew a few of them.
“So I was keen to move down and try a new city out.”
Roberts is the first to admit that the road to the next level is a tough one.
“My focus at the moment is just to get a spot in the Rebels’ 22 and build on last year,” he said.
“Hopefully I can play some good football this year.”
Roberts said he became aware very early on of the intense rivalry between Victoria and NSW.
“It won’t be strange playing against the Waratahs because Victoria is now my adopted home state,” he said.
“It is a good set-up there and hopefully we get a lot of support from the Wodonga and Albury people.”