Brumbies flyhalf Rodney Iona couldn't hide the excitement as the club returns for pre-season ahead of Super Rugby Pacific.
The Super Rugby AU runner-ups returned to training on Monday after a strong 2021 campaign, with only an 83rd minute try denying back-to-back titles.
“The boys are pretty excited to get stuck into it,” Iona told reporters on Monday.
“It’s been a strange couple of months with COVID and not being able to see many of the boys in that time. It is quite nice to come into HQ this morning and see familiar faces and to be able to train and be together.
“Obviously, when we came in everyone was excited to see each other and not only that, the new Super Rugby Pacific (competition), the boys are pretty excited by that. There’s a lot of excitement going around the group at the moment.”
Iona comes into this season with further security around his future, having linked up initially as an extra training member last year before staying with the side for the season.
The 30-year-old signed a one-year deal at the end of August and was eager to push for selection, looking to slot in at either flyhalf or inside centre.
“Nothing changes really much for me. The mindset and mentality are the same, it’s preseason re-joining the group again so I’ve still got the same goals,” he reiterated.
“Not much has changed but it’s nice to know the opportunity is there to take the field next year.”
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Driving the motivation further for Iona is the potential to come up against several of his fellow Samoan Internationals as part of new Super Rugby Pacific side Moana Pasifika.
Based in Auckland, the new side has already signed the likes of Jonathan Taumateine, Henry Stowers and Henry Taefu, with the trio playing alongside Iona in July as Samoa secured their spot in the 2023 World Cup.
“Having played for Samoa, I know a lot of the guys that are playing in that Pasifika side so it will be great to play against them,” he added.
“I do know they will be expressing how much of an opportunity they have playing for Moana (Pasifika) and it’s not going to be an easy task but would be great to come against them.”