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How the Crusaders and Canterbury helped shape uncapped Wallabies prospect

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

When he makes his inevitable test debut for the Wallabies against England over the coming weeks, Nick Frost will have the Crusaders and Canterbury to thank for his rise to international rugby.

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The 22-year-old lock is in line to feature for the Wallabies when they host the English in a three-test series in July after being named as one of six debutants in Dave Rennie’s squad earlier this month.

Frost’s selection came on the back of some impressive performances for the Brumbies en route to their semi-final finish in Super Rugby Pacific.

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Aotearoa Rugby Pod | Episode 18
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Aotearoa Rugby Pod | Episode 18

A member of the Brumbies for three seasons, Frost only signed with the Canberra-based franchise after having previously spent time in New Zealand as a development player with the Crusaders and Canterbury.

Making the unorthodox decision to move to Christchurch from Australia immediately after finishing high school, Frost was part of the Canterbury and Crusaders youth systems between 2018 and 2019.

The young second rower turned out for the Crusaders Knights development team and Canterbury U19 side during his time in the Garden City before returning to Australia after signing a deal with the Brumbies ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby season.

Two years later, Frost is primed to make the next step in his budding playing career, but he hasn’t forgotten how influential his time across the ditch was in his progression to becoming a Wallaby.

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“I went there straight after school. It was an unreal experience. Outside of footy, too, living out of home, a new country, new friends, etc,” Frost told media from Wallabies camp on the Sunshine Coast on Friday.

“Trying to cook for the house is a bit interesting. We were pretty young, but it was good fun, a great experience.

“The footy was unbelievable, really enjoyed it over there, and my main decision for leaving from that was to come back and have a crack at the Wallabies.

“I was pretty happy with my decision, and went back to the Brums and have been loving it there, and now I’ve got a few more years there.”

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As he alluded to, Frost will stay on board with the Brumbies for the foreseeable future, inking a three-year contract extension with the franchise in May after being pursued by the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights.

The Japan Rugby League One powerhouses were hot on the heels of Frost, who revealed that “it was a pretty done deal” to join the Wild Knights before being convinced to remain in Australia and stay eligible for Wallabies selection.

Among those who persuaded Frost to stay put include Wallabies coaches Dave Rennie and Dan McKellar, both of whom were eager to keep the youngster on deck given Australia’s thin stocks at lock.

Touted as a player with high potential, Rugby Australia’s retention of Frost was universally welcomed by those in his homeland, but the man himself detailed just how close he came to jetting abroad for a second time in his career.

“It was a pretty done deal. We’d got all our stuff done, which is a lot in the works to get up to that stage, so that was a big thing,” Frost said.

“The decision after that, there was a lot of phone calls and trying to work out ways and different things, but at the end of the day, they [the Wild Knights] were supportive as well.

“They were obviously disappointed from their end, but they were supportive that it was what I wanted to do.”

At the crux of Frost’s decision to stay put was his desire to play for the Wallabies, meaning his contractual backflip looks set to pay dividends when England come to town within the next fortnight.

“Obviously it was what I always wanted to do,” Frost said about the prospect of playing for the Wallabies.

“It was a pretty hard decision at the start to make my decision to go overseas, and then, similarly enough, it was quite easy to – when I got an opportunity – to stay, to be honest.

“They presented some facts and pictures and talked it through and everyone was pretty understanding. There was a lot of phone calls back and forward. Pretty happy in the end.”

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