Coached by a Wallabies great, Harry Wilson is on his way to becoming one after being named to make his test debut in Sunday’s opening Bledisloe Cup.
The 20-year-old will take on the All Blacks in Wellington, as the Australians try to wrest back the trans-Tasman trophy after 18 years in New Zealand.
Before going to school in Brisbane, Wilson was coached for five years by former Wallabies No.8 Tim Gavin in the NSW country town of Gunnedah.
Gavin missed the Wallabies’ 1991 World Cup triumph through injury but was part of the Australian teams that went regularly went toe to toe with the All Blacks during his 47-test career.
“He was my coach from when I was pretty much four years old to about 10 years old,” Wilson said on Friday.
“We’ve stayed in close contact and I guess he’s kind of been a good mentor over the years, with just always giving me some advice and congratulating me so he’s been very good to me.”
Wilson was named at blindside flanker for the Sky Stadium clash despite spending the Super Rugby AU season as the Reds No.8.
But he said he felt confident on the side of the scrum after playing there as part of Australia’s gun under 20s team, who made the World Cup final last year.
“I played the whole tournament there, and I’ve always switched in a little bit at Reds and rotated around and obviously since being here (with the Wallabies),” he said.
“It’s quite similar to eight, just a few little changes, so I’ll make sure I’ve got my head round that.”
Among four debutants in the match-day 23, Wilson was asked about whether the All Blacks held the same fear factor for the young brigade.
“I guess not because I haven’t really lost to them yet so I guess I’m going at it pretty open minded,” Wilson said.
“I know for the whole squad, this is a new era for the Wallabies and we want to win.
“We want to make a statement in game one and try and get some good news for Aussie rugby and start the year right.”
Wilson will also take heart from his Reds performance this year against New Zealand heavyweights, the Crusaders, where he caught the eye of their coach Scott Robertson.
“I know this is another step up against the All Blacks but I guess I’m coming in here with a lot of confidence and I just want to do my job for the team.”
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