Home > Rugby > ‘He’s a cool dude’: Why Harrison and Rennie should get on like a house on fire – Sydney Morning Herald

‘He’s a cool dude’: Why Harrison and Rennie should get on like a house on fire – Sydney Morning Herald

With six Super Rugby games to his name, Harrison is still a baby of Australian rugby.

An excellent Under-20s World Championship last year put his name up in lights but, by his own admission, there is plenty of improvement before a Test debut can be contemplated.

However, Rennie clearly sees something in the Randwick prodigy. Who knows how many youngsters he has messaged but the proactive play could motivate scores of Wallabies hopefuls who may feel they aren’t too far away if they string together a few auspicious games.

He’s a cool dude. He’s on WhatsApp. He’s got no dramas if I speak to him. He’s a really welcoming sort of bloke.

Will Harrison on Dave Rennie

“I’ve spoken with Dave a few times,” Harrison said. “He’s a good bloke and we’ve just been speaking about things I can do in my game that I can improve on and hopefully put my hand up for a Wallabies jersey. Right now I’m really focused on playing good footy here and connecting with the group and hopefully winning a few games and building momentum into this comp.”

Harrison could be forgiven for having a slightly bruised ego after the Waratahs’ rocky start to the season. NSW registered one win from six games as the left-footed No.10 found his groove at Super Rugby level.

Despite the team’s woes, it was obvious Harrison belonged. He held his nerve, continued to take on the line when others may not have, and stuck it out despite being on the wrong side of a few ugly scorelines.

Continuous time on the park would have been beneficial but a COVID-19 curve ball has given Harrison a valuable chance to reset and reflect on his introduction to the big time.

Dave Rennie has already reached out to Will Harrison. Credit:Louise Kennerley

“I felt I had a strong start, especially in that Crusaders game [on debut],” Harrison said. “It was a bit of a baptism of fire but I felt like I handled myself well there. Then I went through, not a rough patch, but I guess I didn’t play to where I wanted to play in those next two games against the Blues and the Rebels. I didn’t feel I was finding any form and then, when we played the Lions, I felt I got a bit of momentum and then, from there, moving into the Chiefs and Brumbies I felt like I was finding my feet and form.

“I think the main thing I can work on as a young No.10 is my game management. My big goal for the next block is controlling and taking a different role amongst the group.”

Seldom does a young player exude confidence and back themselves publicly. Harrison knows he is far from the finished product and reiterates that when speaking to media but feels he can make a difference.

It should not be misinterpreted as arrogance. Harrison is a humble rookie who lives and breathes rugby but desperately wants to – and thinks he can – help his team succeed.

He loved Paul Gallen’s motivational speech at training last week – “it made me want to box” – and feels he can rise to the occasion at Suncorp Stadium.

“I ticked a lot of boxes in the break and I’m looking to come out firing on Friday night,” he said. “It’s a bit like that State of Origin vibe. I’ve grown up watching these rivalries and always wanted to be involved in one. It’s my first opportunity on Friday night, so I’m very excited.

“We’ve got to take pride in the jersey each week and play like it’s our last game each week. Especially in this first game against Queensland, there is definitely that rivalry. We’ve got to bring the edge and go into battle there.

“We want to go out there and win this thing. We’re not going to participate. We’ve got huge belief in ourselves. We’re going into this next 10 weeks and hopefully doing a job; playing for our state, playing for the jersey.”

Harrison could also be forgiven for feeling a little blue about the state of Australian rugby. The game has taken a battering recently, on a number of different fronts.

Instead, Harrison is optimism personified and buzzing about what the future holds. It’s all mapped out in his head and there for the taking, should he earn his stripes.

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“You’ve got the 2023 World Cup, you’ve got the Lions tour in 2025 and then hopefully a home World Cup in 2027,” Harrison said. “There’s a lot of things that excite me to stay in rugby and there’s a lot of good players who I am around that excite me.

“I’ve played rugby my whole life, I’m passionate about the game, so I definitely see myself sticking with the game in the future and hopefully being a big part in Australian rugby to get it back going where it needs to be.”

No doubt this is music to Rennie’s ears.

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