Australian rugby’s new breakdown “pest” Fraser McReight says he is still learning to pick his moments and that thoughts of a Wallabies call-up remain a fantasy.
But the Queensland Reds back rower has the numbers on the board to mount a case for international recognition as he prepares for his side’s Super Rugby AU preliminary final against the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday.
The 21-year-old leads the abbreviated tournament in turnovers won with 17, six more than next-best teammate Liam Wright and more than double renowned Australia and NSW Waratahs breakdown menace Michael Hooper (eight).
McReight captained the Australia under-20s to silver at last year’s World Championship and has relished a promotion to the Reds’ starting side this year, rather than having to create an impact off the bench.
McReight’s arrival could be viewed as timely for new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, following the retirement of Australia’s long-term pilfering genius David Pocock.
Two tests are expected against New Zealand next month with the possibility of the Rugby Championship to follow in November.
“I’ve had conversations with Dave and the staff there, but haven’t spoken for a few weeks,” McReight said of his international prospects.
“I didn’t think I was even going to be in the conversation, so it’s a bit of fantasy, not my reality.
“If that does pop up later down the track it’d be great, but in the current climate you don’t know what’s going to happen, so my expectations are pretty low.”
McReight gave away a last-gasp penalty trying to steal possession that allowed the Brumbies to kick a winning penalty last month, but has not gone gun shy as a result.
Time to ride out! https://t.co/UQ7ibsZtFY
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“(Coach Brad Thorn) sort of gives you a bit of confidence in his own rugged terms, a license to be energetic, be a pest,” he said.
“My big growth was picking and choosing my battles against quality opposition, who can clean you out really easily.
“I’ve been pinged multiple times but it’s a learning curve … and it’s my job to go hunting for the ball.”
He said earning another shot at the ladder-leading Brumbies, and following in the footsteps of the Reds’ 2011 title-winning side, was the main focus.
“That whole squad was awesome, (Will) Genia, Quade (Cooper) all those boys were young, a bit like us,” McReight, who rates former Wallaby Radike Samo among his idols, said.
“We want to go out there and prove … we’re not here to be trifled with.”
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