THE Quirindi Lions have enjoyed a once in a lifetime trip to Victoria to watch some of the game's best strut their stuff.
A touring party of 20 players travelled to Melbourne to rub shoulders with the Melbourne Rebels at their captain's run ahead of the Rebels' clash with the NSW Waratahs.
Lions coach Col McKenzie said the trip provided the group with valuable insight into how the game is played at the elite level.
"For us it was really interesting to see how well the Rebels document all of their players, virtually their every move is documented," McKenzie told the Leader.
"Meeting the coaches was really insightful for us and showed us what we can implement into our own system at Quirindi."
McKenzie said the trip acted as a bonding experience for his young side.
"Everyone had a lot of fun and really enjoyed each others company," he said.
"We have made a lot of improvements this season and something like this will go a long way to making sure that improvement keeps going.
"I think a perfect example of the sort of feeling we have going at the moment is Gordan McNeil.
"He organised this trip for us, despite moving to Toowoomba a little while ago.
"I think that shows how much he and so many other people care about the club and it was great to have him come along."
As well as touring the facilities and talking tactics with the Rebels' coaching staff, the players also got to chat with Rebels' rake Anaru Rangi, who left the group with a lasting memory.
"He [Rangi] was a really nice bloke and actually gave us a signed jersey to bring home with us," McKenzie said.
"The trip was organised through our sponsors North West Farm Machinery and Agco, who have actually organised some farm work for Anaru during the off season.
"So from that perspective it was really interesting to chat to Anaru about farming and everything else."
McKenzie said he was hopeful the club would return to Melbourne for future trips.
"With any luck we may be able to come back next year for an exhibition match," he said.
"I think the sponsors are very keen to have us back and I know all of the guys who came this time would be interested.
"If it does go ahead next year it would be a great experience for everyone and something I think they will remember for a long time."
The Lions will now look to a rugby-free long weekend before turning their attention to a round nine clash against the Inverell Highlanders at the Lions Den.