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'Next stop Chicago': New MLR franchise announces another star signing

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for LA Giltinis)

Major League Rugby’s newest franchise the Chicago Hounds have announced the signing of a former Melbourne Rebels star, as they continue to add more firepower to their already star-studded roster.

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Two-time MLR Back of the Year Billy Meakes is the latest big name signing to be announced by the league’s 12th franchise, ahead of their maiden campaign next year.

Meakes made his American rugby debut in 2021 as a foundation player with the LA Giltinis, alongside former Wallaby greats Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

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The former Western Force and Melbourne Rebels back played a starring role in the Giltinis’ charge towards the championship, having been named Back of the Year after his debut season.

While the Giltinis failed in their quest to go back-to-back earlier this year, Meakes was able to replicate his individual brilliance – arguably playing better than he did the season before.

Meakes, who has played 27 MLR games, led the league for metres gained and was second for defenders beaten.

The Hounds have already announced the signings of some quality players, including USA Eagles centre Bryce Campbell who could potentially line-up in the midfield alongside the Australian.

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Chicago made the announced on their social media pages on Sunday, and Meakes shared the news himself a couple of hours later.

“Cat’s out the bag,” Meakes wrote on Instagram. “Next stop Chicago!”

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Meakes’ journey to Major League Rugby is a unique story of perseverance and passion, having played the sport he loves in three different countries.

After playing Shute Shield rugby in Sydney, the centre moved to England where he played for Gloucester, before returning to Australian shores.

Meakes played for both the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels, and later returned to the UK with London Irish.

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But the 31-year-old has seemingly found a home in MLR, having played some of his best rugby with the LA-based franchise.

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