The Queensland Reds received a welcome boost at training today with all remaining Wallabies representatives returning from annual leave to rejoin the squad at Ballymore.
Preparations for the Reds' opening trial match, against the ACT Brumbies in Cairns on February 11, are now in full swing with the injection of returning Wallabies talent crucial to the team's success for the upcoming Super Rugby season.
Reds vice-captain Will Genia enjoyed his scheduled leave by visiting family in Papua New Guinea but has since returned to Australia re-energised to tackle the challenges ahead.
"It's a different feeling coming into the season as the top dog having won the title but it's a challenge I'm looking forward to and one everyone is looking forward to," Genia said.
"It's going to be an even bigger year than last year with the amount of games we have to play but I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be busy but I wouldn't have it any other way.
"There are a lot of new challenges ahead and we know 2011 is done. We're looking forward now."
The Reds officially returned to pre-season training last Monday where they were happily greeted by a select group of Wallabies who voluntarily chose to commence training ahead of their scheduled return.
The remaining Reds' Wallabies rejoined the squad today to mark the first occasion the entire group has been assembled to train together since the Reds won the 2011 Super Rugby competition last July.
Since beating the Crusaders in the Super Rugby Final, 13 Reds players have gone on to represent Australia at either the World Cup, Tri-Nations or in the Samoa Test.
Electric wing Digby Ioane, who recommitted to Queensland Rugby for a further three seasons following the year-end tour, is also looking forward to the season ahead.
"The holidays are over now and I'm looking forward to the new season," Ioane said.
"All the boys are raising the bar so it's exciting to be back around the team again.
"I'm happy with the choice I made to re-sign for three more years because what better place is there to be than Queensland. I really love playing my footy here and I want to continue developing my skills."
The Reds will be aiming to become just the fourth team in Super Rugby history to win back-to-back titles, replicating the feats of the Blues (1996-1997), Crusaders (1998-2000 and 2005-2006) and Bulls (2009-2010).
They begin their 2012 Super Rugby campaign against the NSW Waratahs on February 25.
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