Looking to break away from the Brumbies, Joe Powell has found himself in very familiar surrounds so far this Super Rugby AU season.

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The Melbourne recruit will run out at GIO Stadium on Saturday night in his first clash against the Brumbies, his team for the past six years and 73 games, and the venue where he helped them claim last year’s title.

With the Rebels relocating to Canberra early last month to avoid COVID-19 related border restrictions, there’s a sense of deja vu for Powell.

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He said he’d had a few texts from his former teammates and expected more attention at the bottom of the ruck come game time.

The 26-year-old moved to Melbourne with a vacancy opening up with Ryan Louwrens’ return to Japan, while the Brumbies had starting Wallabies halfback Nic White and Ryan Lonergan on their books.

In their 23-21 loss to the Reds, Powell had his first run in the halves with Matt To’omua although their time overlapped at the Brumbies in 2015-16.

“I’ve known Matt since 2015 so it’s been a while for us,” Powell told AAP.

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“There’s still plenty of room for improvement – me and Pup (To’omua) haven’t played a huge amount of footy together so I think that’s something that will come along with each game.

“It was a positive start for us and we were probably unlucky not to close out the game last week.”

Powell said he’d had to adapt to the Rebels’ free-wheeling game style which meant a new way of “thinking about the game”.

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“It’s nice being exposed to new ways of playing the game as there’s a little bit more freedom in the way the Rebels play which is hopefully something that will suit my game.”

He’d been tapped for intelligence on his former team, who put 61 points on the Waratahs last round, but said the Brumbies’ strengths were pretty obvious.

“They bring really good set piece play and I think their scrum is very good and so is their line-out and maul so if we can match them in those areas that will go a long way to putting them under pressure,” the four-Test Wallaby said.

“I’ve given them little bits and pieces but I think in the last few years the Rebels have played quite well against the Brumbies so their game plan is looking pretty solid.”

Meanwhile, Melbourne will be without Jordan Uelese after the injury-cursed Wallabies hooker underwent hand surgery in Canberra.

Uelese fractured his hand against the Reds and is likely to be sidelined for the next two to three weeks with his place taken by James Hanson.

Rebels: Tom Pincus, Lachie Anderson, Stacey Ili, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Matt To’omua, Joe Powell, Michael Wells, Richard Hardwick, Josh Kemeny, Trevor Hosea, Ross Haylett-Petty, Pone Fa’amausili, James Hanson, Cabous Eloff. Reserves: Ed Craig, Isaac Aedo Kailea, Lucio Sordoni, Steve Cummins, Rob Leota, James Tuttle/Brad Wilkin/Tom Nowlan, Frank Lomani, Glen Vaihu

– Melissa Woods

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