Ryan Lonergan had to wait four Super Rugby seasons to earn his first start but the Brumbies halfback made the most of it on Friday.
Lonergan was sensational in the No. 9 jersey as the Brumbies thumped the Sunwolves 47-14 in Wollongong.
The 21-year-old scored a try and nailed five conversions in a performance that will likely see him picked ahead of Joe Powell against the NSW Waratahs next week.
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Lonergan admitted he was guilty of becoming “a bit complacent” after making his Super Rugby debut as a teenager in 2017.
He wasn’t picked at all of 2018 and only made a handful of appearances in 2019, so when his chance came this season Lonergan wanted to make sure he grabbed it.
“I did have a bit of a think about that before the game,” Lonergan said.
“Last year I decided to have a bit more of a crack in and around training and stuff, just didn’t take a back seat.
“I earned myself a couple of spots and then this year’s been the same, just stepping it up another level.
“I just (tried) to go out there and be comfortable and not overthink it.”
Lonergan said he’d learnt plenty from Powell, who scored off the bench against the Sunwolves, and described their rivalry as good for the team.
“We actually get it along really well – he was just saying his try was better than mine, his little dot over but I’m not taking that,” Lonergan said.
“I learn off him and make a good friend out of him as well.
“He’ll always be a good mate of mine and we both know we’re both competing for that spot. I think we’ve just got to cop that on the chin, whoever gets it, and then just do your job coming off the bench.”
Coach Dan McKellar said Lonergan’s goalkicking prowess could work in his favour.
“Yeah it does with any selection that is tight,” McKellar said.
“Loners has done a really good job for us off the bench, playing 25 minutes and closing out games. His clearance game, his kicking game, his goal kicking, is all outstanding.
“He’s a quality goalkicker and it’s a real string in his bow. I thought he played well today and directed us around nicely.
“But then Joey Powell has been very good as well.”
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