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'Everyone wants to play': Rising star reflects on rivalry with Noah Lolesio

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Rising star Reesjan Pasitoa has taken every opportunity to “learn from the best” with both hands throughout his young career.

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And the talented Western Force playmaker is just getting started.

After growing up in Western Australia, Pasitoa was given the opportunity to attend one of Australia’s most prestigious rugby schools on a scholarship.

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Pasitoa won two GPS premierships with the Nudgee College First XV in Brisbane, as he proved himself to be one of the brightest up-and-coming talents in Australian rugby.

The star pivot inked a deal with the Brumbies while he was still at High School, as he looked to develop his game alongside some of the best players in the nation.

But Pasitoa was locked in an intriguing battle with another emerging star for the starting jersey, which ultimately went to his teammate Noah Lolesio.

Pasitoa was given limited opportunities to shine at Super Rugby level, as Lolesio and Brumbies veteran Christian Leali’ifano were seen as preferred options.

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While he agreed that the lack of playing time was frustrating, Pasitoa opened up about what he learnt throughout his time in the nations capital.

“Yeah, yeah for sure (it was frustrating). But I think something that I learnt there is even if you’re not playing, the importance you play in our role of the team,” Pasitoa told RugbyPass.

“If you’re not playing that week, you’ve got to prepare the boys who are playing as best as you can.

“I learnt lots off Christian and Noah as well… planning my weeks and regarding extras and all that stuff.

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“Noah was good competition. (I) learned a lot off him and obviously you can see he’s excelled and doing really well.

“Everyone wants to play and I guess that’s just how it is.”

Noah Lolesio quickly rose to superstar status within Australian rugby, as he guided the Brumbies to a Super Rugby AU title and made his Wallabies debut.

Lolesio entered the fray of test rugby against traditional rivals the All Blacks a few years ago now, and hasn’t skipped a beat since.

The star fly-half played a crucial role in the Wallabies’ series win over World Cup favourites France a couple of years ago, in what a coming of age moment for the young gun.

The Auckland-born talent kicked winning penalty goals in the first and third test match, which was the last time Les Bleus lost.

Lolesio only played half of the Wallabies’ test matches last year, and started six of them, but is clearly shaping up to be a future leader of the national side.

As for Pasitoa, he’s coming off his first full season as a matchday regular in Super Rugby after signing for the Western Force.

But a devastating knee injury while playing club rugby in WA, in the final two minutes of that match too, has sidelined him until around the middle of May.

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That being said, there’s no resentment there or love lost between the two good mates.

Pasitoa is looking ahead to the day where gets to “be there with him battling it out” for the Wallabies’ starting jersey.

“He’s a good dude, always try and catch up with him… it’s cool to see him do so well on the big stage. Hopefully one day I can be there with him battling it out,” he added.

“It’s cool being able to real close to someone but still being able to push each other and don’t have that envy for each other.

“If he makes it then I’m proud as, and I would think vice versa as well.

“It probably makes things easier being mates I reckon… we can be honest with each other and critique each other and we won’t take it the wrong way.”

Australian rugby fans have been waiting for a golden generation of talent to make a statement at test level for quite some time now.

Led by flanker Fraser McReight, the Junior Wallabies reached the World Championships final in Argentina a few years ago – losing to France by one point in the decider.

Later in 2019, the Australian Schoolboys recorded a drought breaking win against rivals New Zealand in Hamilton. It was their first win across the ditch in seven years.

Many of these players have gone on to higher honours, and will played a crucial role in the Wallabies’ World Cup charge later this year.

“It’s cool to see those boys who I played Schools with really excel.

“Angus Bell, one minute I was playing with him at Schools and then he’s playing for the Wallabies.

“It’s so cool to see boys who I played with really excel and go on in their career.

“I think there’s a lot of young talent here and I think if we get the opportunity… there’s a good chance for us to change that stigma.”

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