Young Queensland loose forward Harry Wilson proved himself as one of the breakout stars of Super Rugby in both its pre-COVID and Australia-only formats this season.
The same can be said of Blues youngster Hoskins Sotutu, who took Super Rugby and Super Rugby Aotearoa by storm with a series of compelling displays for the Auckland franchise.
As a result, both players are considered frontrunners to face off against each other at No. 8 in the first Bledisloe Cup match of the year in Wellington on October 11.
Given his devastating ball-running and immense defensive work rate, most young players would be left intimidated at the prospect of having to mark up against Sotutu, who was undoubtedly one of the stars in a reinvigorated Blues side this year.
That isn’t the case for Wilson, though, who was similarly influential for the Reds en route to their Super Rugby AU runners-up finish on Saturday.
With attributes that almost mirror that of Sotutu, 20-year-old Wilson says he would be excited to test himself against the 22-year-old who instilled him with the confidence to shine for the Reds.
“Being a No. 8, I really enjoyed watching Hoskins Sotutu play this season,” last year’s Australia U20 representative said on Tuesday.
“I though he was superb. It was just really cool watching him play, being another young No. 8, I guess gave me confidence seeing how well he could play at his age, so he’s one person I’ve enjoyed playing.
“[He’s] a player I’d love to play against because I could see him being one of the best No. 8s in the world pretty quickly.”
That praise could equally be directed at Wilson himself, with Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson among those to acknowledge the uncapped sensation’s talent.
Speaking to Fox Sports following his side’s 49-14 win over the Sunwolves in Brisbane earlier this year, Robertson admitted he had “fallen” for Wilson after having impressed in the opening rounds of the initial Super Rugby competition.
“I’ve officially fallen for, have I mentioned, Harry Wilson,” Robertson, who went on to guide the Crusaders to the Super Rugby Aotearoa crown – their fourth title in as many years – said.
“As an ex-No. 8, his ability to set a bit of footwork is special. The other No. 7, Liam Wright, and even the guy [Fraser McReight] off the bench … they’re coming.”
It seems new Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie agrees with that sentiment, as Wright and McReight, both of whom also stood out alongside Wilson as part of Queensland’s loose forward trio, were included in his 44-man squad a fortnight ago.
Although he was appreciative of the praise, Wilson said he took Robertson’s comments with a grain of salt.
“I really appreciated the comments because it’s coming from somebody who had such a successful rugby career, and now coaching career, but I guess I can’t really take those comments too seriously,” he said.
“That was after when we [played] them. I guess I appreciate the comments, but yeah, I haven’t really worried about them.”
The Wallabies will depart for New Zealand on Friday before undergoing a two-week quarantine period prior to their first match against the All Blacks next month.
Wilson suggested that being forced into isolation for a fortnight might be enough to give him and his teammate a little more motivation leading into that series-opener.
“The first few days of quarantine I might enjoy lying down and just refreshing the body a bit, but it’ll be weird just being in the room by myself for three or four days,” he said.
“I’m quite a talkative person so I’ll be FaceTiming a lot of people.
“It’ll be an interesting experience, but I guess having those few days by yourself will make you pretty excited to get back out on the field and just being around the boys.”
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