Ioane makes long-awaited Melbourne rugby return
Monty Ioane's return to Melbourne has been more than a decade in the making, with the Italy Test winger itching to run out for the Rebels in Super Round.
The Rebels take on the Hurricanes on Friday night, the second of six matches featuring all 12 Super Rugby Pacific teams over three days of double-headers at AAMI Park.
Ioane started playing rugby in Melbourne but left as a 16-year-old to take up a Brisbane school scholarship.
He never imagined he would be 28 before he returned, having ended up following his Wallabies winger cousin Digby Ioane to France.
His career then went via New Zealand and Italy, where he spent six years and qualified for the Azzurri via residency and has since played 14 Tests.
With his mum and other family members still in Melbourne, Ioane has had to scramble for tickets for Friday's game.
"I had to try and pull some tickets together and I've got about 20 but that doesn't even cover my family," Ioane told AAP.
"I've got a lot of family who have never been to a game - even my parents haven't seen me play for about eight years."
Playing in front of family will be special to Ioane but will not top being a part of Italy's historic victory over Australia last November in Florence.
His cousin Pete Samu started in an under-manned Wallabies outfit that embarrassingly suffered their first-ever Italian defeat, 28-27.
"I put everything into that game because I wanted nothing more than to beat the Wallabies - that was awesome," said Ioane, who is hoping to be part of Italy's World Cup campaign later this year.
The Rebels opened their Super season with a disappointing seven-point loss to Western Force but Ioane is hopeful their combinations will improve with a game under their belt.
The Hurricanes, who thrashed the Reds last week, boast All Blacks Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett in their line-up.
"The level of rugby obviously I'm used to it but it was about me trying to understand how we play as a team," Ioane said.
"Round one has passed so now I'm going to try and inject myself in a way where I can contribute."
He is hoping Melbourne can utilise the speed in their back three, with Tokyo Olympic sevens players winger Lachie Anderson and fullback Joe Pincus both on board.
"We've got some Wallabies up front so if we can get some good go-forward that will be our platform to play off and then we can get the ball wide and start making use of our faster players like Pincus and Ando (Anderson)," he said.
"Without much 15-a-side under their belt it's pretty exciting to see how they go, just the way they've been trucking along at training."