'While I haven't started at nine I'm not going to change anything'
The Wallabies had a two-point win in the first Test in Brisbane while the French hit back by the same margin in Melbourne on Tuesday, setting up a thrilling showdown at Suncorp Stadium.
McDermott clinched the No.9 jersey from Jake Gordon after four cameos from the bench, including two impressive stints in this series.
The 22-year-old Queenslander says Wallabies five-eighth Noah Lolesio, himself only 21, has given him the “licence” to play his natural running game.
He says Lolesio has a similar attacking mindset to his Reds halves partner, injured Wallabies veteran James O’Connor.
“I’m really comfortable with Noah – we see the game in similar ways,” McDermott said.
“He likes to run the ball so he’s given me that licence that if I see a bit of space I can tak e it and he will flatten up with me and be there for the offload.
“He sees the game like James O’Connor, with an attacking mindset.”
The Wallabies have acknowledged that they kicked too much in the first Test and too little in the second, and McDermott said they would look to share that role throughout the backline.
“If everyone from nine to 15 are kicking the ball, it’s less predictable and better for our attack and can also have a flow-on affect in defence because we can pin them in the corners,” McDermott said.
“That’s been a massive point Dave (coach Dave Rennie) and Wisey (attack coach Scott Wisemantel) have really honed in on and that’s really important.”
While McDermott will look to use that tactic more often, he said he would still use his running strengths as a starting halfback.
“While I haven’t started at nine I’m not going to change anything – my job is to increase the tempo when I can and that’s what I’m good at,” he said.
“I’ve got guys I need to unleash … my distribution is going to be key in the game but to say I’m going to change, that’s not where my head space is at.
“I’m going to focus on my strengths and do my job and that’s to shift the ball and if there’s space, run.”
While McDermott said it was special to make his starting debut on his home ground – the scene of his biggest rugby triumph after steering the Reds to the Super Rugby AU title – he didn’t want any additional spotlight.
“It’s a special moment for me and my career but there’s more at stake this week – it’s not about me,” he said.
“We’ve got a job to do for our country and what better way to kick start our year with a win over the French.”
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