DREW MITCHELL has spent the past few weeks travelling through Hong Kong and the United States for some rest and relaxation, but is back home in time for an important family affair this weekend.
The Test and Waratahs winger is still some months away from returning to the playing field due to a serious ankle injury, which has given him the time to help out his two brothers who are involved in the Army team that will take on Navy in the curtain-raiser to Saturday night's Waratahs-Rebels match at Allianz Stadium.
Mitchell hails from a rich army family. His grandfather, Rex Taylor, spent 30 years in the army, while his father, Gordon Mitchell, was a warrant officer for 31 years. And two of Gordon's sons, Zane and Bronsen, followed him into the army. The only one heading in another direction was Drew.
The three Mitchell brothers will assemble in Sydney today to begin preparations for one of the armed services biggest sporting grudge matches. For years, Army-Navy rugby encounters are renowned for being rugged affairs, and the Wallabies winger has been called in to help out the soldiers.
Drew will act as one of the back-up coaches, water boy and probably also be in charge of the Army bench, as well as providing advice to Zane, a Blackhawk technician, who is expected to start the match, and Bronsen, a medic who is in line for a bench spot.
It begs the question. How did Drew miss out on a military career? ''My middle brother Bronsen was always into the army, getting involved in the cadets and so forth. My eldest brother Zane had a bit of interest, and I had no interest. It was not that I didn't like it. Maybe the discipline was too much for me, and I was getting enough of that at home with Dad,'' Mitchell said yesterday.
''Rugby also stopped me from going into the army as well. Otherwise I would be battling it out, probably still at Kapooka trying to get through my basic training.''