Exciting young playmaker Noah Lolesio has the backing of his Wallabies coaches to play his natural game rather than try to switch into Test mode ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener against New Zealand next month.
The Brumbies five-eighth is likely to make his Test debut in Wellington on October 11, although whether that’s in the starting side or off the bench it still be revealed.
The 20-year-old talent showed off his array of attacking skills in the Super Rugby AU final, creating opportunities as well as breaking the line himself in his man of the match performance.
But rather than try to play a more conservative style on the international stage, Lolesio has been told by Wallabies backs coach Scott Wisemantel and head coach Dave Rennie to play to his strengths.
“Wisie and Dave have been awesome, they’ve just said, ‘be yourself, be the best version you can be’,” Lolesio said on Wednesday from the training base in Christchurch.
“That’s what’s got me here so I’m going to try to keep doing that, but not overplay my hand too much.
“I’m really looking forward to testing myself against the best players in the world.”
Lolesio said the halves were all training together and he was enjoying getting to know uncapped Reds No.9 Tate McDermott, who has had a breakout season .
“In the Super season he (McDermott) was a definite ball-running threat which is what I love for a nine as it takes the pressure off my shoulders a bit, he said.
“It’s not just me trying to organise everyone around; he’s (McDermott) has got a big loud voice on the field and when he sees an opportunity he’ll take it, so it adds another dimension to the attack.”
Lolesio is up against veterans Matt Toomua and James O’Connor to wear the No.10 jersey but Wallabies backs coach Scott Wisemantel says they will pick the best team possible, regardless of age and experience.
Waratahs rookie, 21-year-old Will Harrison, is also part of the 44-man squad.
“We wouldn’t have brought him (Lolesio) if we didn’t think he was ready,” Wisemantel said.
“The thing is, you’ve got to play your first Test at some stage, so the reality is that we’ve got four flyhalves and there’s competition.
“You’ve got young Will Harrison, another guy like Noah, who is fighting for a start and some (old) stagers there like O’Connor and Toomua so it’s a really nice balance.
“Two experienced and two young bloods.”
Lolesio roomed with O’Connor, who has played 52 Tests, at the start of their training camp and the youngster was happy to pick the brains of the 30-year-old.
O’Connor also burst on to the scene as a prodigious young star before his career went off track for a few years through off-field misdemeanours.
“He’s been awesome to me and he’s given me some really wise advice,” Lolesio said.
“We hardly ever talk about footy, we just talked about life in general and his life-learned lessons so he’s been unreal.”
– Melissa Woods
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