IT has been eight months since Ryley Batt last played a competitive match for the Australian Steelers wheelchair rugby side.
The quiet period is now winding down as Batt and the Australians start to prepare in earnest for the world championships in Sydney in August.
Batt has again been named captain for the Steelers’ Quad Nations campaign in England from March 9-11.
While travel is a part of professional sport, the 28-year-old conceded it was frustrating to travel halfway across the world for a three-day tournament.
“It is what the sport is,” he said.
“It’s the same as any sport in the world; you might have a swimmer or a runner who travels over to Europe for one 100-metre event.
“It’s what we do and what we have to get used to doing. We prepare pretty well and recover well from the travel.
“I’d rather stay in Australia and play though, I know that.”
The Port Macquarie product admitted he always felt nervous when representing his country and the tournament at the Leicester Arena would be no different.
“I’m excited, but nervous too,” he said.
Of course we want to win every game, but if we do have a loss we’re not going to get demoralised about it, we just want to learn from it.Ryley Batt
“I’m looking forward to the tournament because we haven’t gotten to play at this elite level for probably almost a year now, so we’re really excited to play against some really hard teams.”
Australia will go up against Japan, the United States and Great Britain in a competition that pits four of the top five countries in the world against each other.
“Sometimes you play a hard team and the next game might be a little bit easier, but there’s not going to be a let off in this tournament,” Batt said.
Results aren’t the focus, with Batt saying they would prefer to continue to improve as a team.
The Steelers will aim to defend their world championship crown in six months’ time and want to stay as the current number one ranked side in the world.
“We’ve had a few people retire and a few guys added in so we’re excited to get over there and start playing,” he said.
I’d rather stay in Australia and play though, I know that.Ryley Batt
“I’ll probably be regretting saying that by the second day when I’m sore and sorry, but it’s a proud moment when you get to play for your country.
“This year is jam-packed for us and we’re trying to peak for August so the results of this tournament aren’t too important.
“Of course we want to win every game, but if we do have a loss we’re not going to get demoralised about it, we just want to learn from it.”
The Australian captain said his new role as captain had given him a new lease on life in the sport.
“I have been captain in the past for one-off tournaments, but now I know I’m going long-term with the captaincy … I can’t really describe it,” he said.
“Now I’m leading the team to the world champs it’s given me a new love for the game.”