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'Haven't lost that aspiration of a gold jersey': Rising star reflects on 'big call' to head overseas

By Finn Morton
Former Australian Schoolboys star Isaac Lucas. (Photo by Simon Watts/Getty Images)

For Australian rugby fans, Isaac Lucas is the one that got away.

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Once heralded as a wonderkid of rugby Down Under, the former Junior Wallabies representative made the stunning decision to head overseas at 21 years of age.

The exciting playmaker was widely considered the next big thing in Australian rugby, and had become a matchday regular with the Queensland Reds early in his career.

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But an opportunity to head to Japan proved too good for the rising star to turn down, as he put pen to paper with Tokyo-based club Ricoh Black Rams.

Australia’s loss proved to be Japan’s gain, as the generational talent continued to standout during his time wearing the black jersey.

Playing alongside his brother Matt Lucas, Isaac has taken his game to an all-new level in Japan.

And Australia could reap the rewards.

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In an interview with The Roar, the 23-year-old spoke about his “desire” to wear Wallaby gold sometime in the future.

“I definitely haven’t lost that desire,” Lucas told The Roar.

“I know it was a big call when I did make the decision to come over here, but at no time did I ever think I would be done there.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time over here and I do still think I’m developing, I’m getting better over here.

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“With the coaches over here and the playing group, it’s still an environment where I can get better.

“I definitely haven’t lost that aspiration of a gold jersey. I know I’ve taken a different path by coming over here.

“In short, I still have been keeping in touch with what’s going on back home and speaking to players and coaches.

“I’ve been keeping a pulse but, at the same time, I’m not thinking too far ahead. I’ve got this season at the forefront of my mind.”

Lucas started at fullback for the Junior Wallabies in their Under-20s World Championship final against France in 2019.

The Australians fell agonisingly short of world title glory, but the potential of the incoming golden generation was clear for all to see.

Some of Lucas’ teammates in that final have gone on to higher honours with the Wallabies, including the likes of Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Mark Nawaqanitawase and Noah Lolesio.

While it’s potentially an insight into what could’ve been for Lucas, the utility back said he’s “genuinely excited and happy” for his former teammates.

“Coming through with all these players, who are now even establishing themselves as test players now, it’s exciting,” he said.

“I’m genuinely excited and happy for all of them because they deserve it and they’re playing good footy.

“It is a tough one because on the one hand you get a sense that, ‘jeez that would be bloody good.’

“But I’ve made the decision to come over here and I’m fully committed to that. I’m just ripping in and giving it my all.”

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But he could join them in the test arena sometime in the future.

He’ll have to earn it though – and he knows that.

While he focused on the task at hand in Japan, the lure of the British and Irish Lions series to Australia in 2025 must be tempting.

According to The Roar, the Western Force are reportedly interested in acquiring Lucas’ services.

“There’s a lot of factors. I’ve got to get back and play some good rugby for whatever side I could end up (at).

“I still remember the Lions series when all the Australian Super Rugby sides (played)… even seeing that Luke Morahan try pop up (on social media). It was such a big year.

“Without getting too far ahead of it, because there’s obviously so many moving parts with it all, it’s a big couple of years coming up in that space.”

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