'Wallaby in the making': Teenage Reds rookie stars on Super Rugby debut after just seven hours of notice
At the age of just 19, Grealy was tasked with preparing for a showdown with the unbeaten Blues in front of his home fans on the back of only seven hours of notice.
With kick-off scheduled for 7:45pm local time, Grealy revealed he was only notified that he would be playing in the match while he was watching the NBA at around lunchtime that day.
“It’s been a pretty crazy couple of days. Yesterday, Rabsy [O’Connor] went down so sort of knew Hegarty went into 10 and Hamo [Hamish Stewart], but then Hegarty was a bit of a hit or miss with his hamstring,” Grealy told Stan Sport after the match.
“I was just sitting around watching a bit of basketball, actually, with my roomies and then I got a call from Thorny around 12:30 and then knew it was game time.”
As daunting a prospect that may have seemed, Grealy handled the weight of expectation superbly as he acquitted himself against a Blues side that featured a total of nine All Blacks.
Proving he was no slouch with ball in hand, the former schoolboy sensation – who shunned the NRL to sign with the Reds – ran for 77 metres from just seven carries as he showed glimpses of his potential as a future Reds star.
Grealy’s impressive debut didn’t go unnoticed, as Stan Sport pundit and former Wallabies midfielder Morgan Turinui expressed his awe at how well the youngster adapted to his call-up so close to kick-off.
“I’ll tell you what, I wouldn’t have coped with that late a call-up, that’s for sure. What an impressive young man he was,” Turinui said when asked how he would have fared if put in a similar situation as a 19-year-old.
“There’s been a fair bit of buzz around Mac for a while. He could have taken the rugby league pathway, he was a genuine schoolboy hero from that Toowoomba region, so great to see him stay in rugby.”
While ex-All Blacks first-five Andrew Mehrtens added that Grealy “didn’t look out of place by any stretch”, Turinui took note of how well he played considering the loss of both O’Connor and Hegarty shortly before the match.
“We talked about it maybe being easier with the lead-in, but in terms of the team that he walked into, no Hegarty, no O’Connor, Stewart fronting at 10, it’s not an easy footy situation that he walked into to perform, and he did admirably well, didn’t he.”
Grealy impact wasn’t lost on Queensland fans either, as plenty took to Twitter to praise the teenager, whose mentor while at Toowoomba’s Downlands College was ex-Wallabies lock Garrick Morgan.
One supporter even went as far to suggest Grealy could be in line for Wallabies honours himself at some stage down the line, while another said his efforts were “not bad for a bloke who only just learnt how to shave”.
#REDvBLU #SuperRugbyTransTasman #SuperRugby Celebrating achievement is what we do in Rugby so congratulations to the Reds Mac Grealy on his debut, played well too, hopefully a Wallaby in the making, well done to the young fella.
— Shane Moran (@scoolm8) June 4, 2021
Great interview with Mac Grealy. 19?! 7 hours prep for his first ever Super Rugby game. Brilliant debut. And total natural on camera. Will be looking out for this fella.#REDvBLU #SuperRugbyTT #SuperRugbyTransTasman #SuperRugby
— Declan Keyes-Bevan (@deckeyesbevan) June 4, 2021
This Mac Grealy dude looks promising
— Zach (@ZachryaAfiq) June 4, 2021
I’ll tell you what, for a bloke who got called up just hours before the game Mac Grealy isn’t looking out of place. #REDvBLU
— Brittany Mitchell (@BrittMitchell11) June 4, 2021
Grealy done really well at 15 for the Reds tonight. Debut with 5 hours notice as has been solid at the back. Some nice runs and kicks. Not bad for a bloke who only just learnt how to shave. #REDvBLU
— Huw Tindall (@HuwTindall) June 4, 2021
Despite Grealy’s eye-catching induction into Super Rugby, the defeat leaves the Reds languishing in sixth place on the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman standings with just five competition points to their name.
If Thorn is as impressed by Grealy as the likes of Turinui, Mehrtens and many Reds fans are, the fullback may feature in the Reds’ final match of the season against the Hurricanes in Wellington next Friday.
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