Finally the overwhelming requests for tickets was a pleasure, because it came with a night in his own bed and a home cooked meal for the first time in a month.
The 2021 season for the Melbourne Rebels looked like a horror case of deja vu when they were forced in to an afternoon convoy scramble to get out of Victoria before the most recent lockdown in February.
But fears of another extended stay interstate, after spending four months on the road last year, were allayed and the Rebels will on Friday play their first home game at AAMI park in more than 12 months.
For Melbourne boy Pone Fa‘amausili and his trio of Victorian born and bred teammates it’s more than just a return home.
With fans back in the stands, it will be the first time he has played in front of his family since 2019
“And my family extends to cousins, and everyone wants to be there,” Fa‘amausili said on Monday.
“Everyone has been asking for tickets, and we only get four, so I’,going to have to buy a few out of my own pocket.”
The Rebels return on Friday, to play the Waratahs, leaves just the championship winning Vixens and Southside Flyers to get their first home games after playing the entire Super Netball and WNBL seasons respectively in hubs last year.
That made their title wins all the more extraordinary and the Rebels a also made the finals of the Super Rugby Au competition for the first time.
The toll, both mental and physical, cannot be understated.
But neither can the lack of support in the stands when crowds did return.
“We played against the Waratahs last season, it was supposed to be a home game,but it was in Sydney, and no-one was cheering for us,” Fa‘amausili said.
“It does make a massive difference, and to know our families and friends will be there for us, after so long, we know it’s going to give us a lift.”
Spirits area already up at Rebels headquarters after all players found a card in their lockers when the went to training on Monday, signed by all staff, welcoming them home and telling them all how much their efforts on the road meant to everyone involved with the club.
Their efforts returned two narrow losses to last year’s grand finalists, then a win last week over the Western Force.
But Fa‘amausili said it was all building to a big one back at home.
“100 per cent. Our first game, without practice games, was really our first match together,” he said.
“We’ve been working on so many things and with that win last week, we know what we need to do to get the job done.”