Brumbies new sensation cracks the nod for Wallaby selection
Brumbies jubilant head coach Dan McKellar believes young sensation Noah Lolesio is ready for the cauldron of the Bledisloe Cup after pretty much single handedly steering the Brumbies to Super Rugby AU victory with an absolute stunner in the final at Canberra.
Thrown into the flyhalf berth after spending two months out with a torn hamstring, Lolesio rose to the occasion and put the Reds to the sword from the first minute in the Brumbies thrilling 28-23 victory on Saturday night.
The youngster was everywhere – he set up one try with a step and an offload, also had a hand in another and slotted no less than 13 points via two conversions, two penalties and a drop goal. The only thing missing from his “full house” was a try of his own.
Lolesio’s match-winning display vindicated McKellar’s bold decision to recall him in the pivotal role of 10 for the Brumbies’ biggest game of the season.
“It’s easy to reflect and say that it was an easy decision,” McKellar said as he savoured the Brumbies’ first title triumph since the ACT outfit beat the mighty Crusaders in the 2004 Super Rugby final.
“As I said during the week, for four months he hadn’t played before the Rebels game (in round one of the AU competition) and he fronted up that night and we were confident he’d do the same again tonight.
“He was one of our best players.”
The young star will assemble in the NSW Hunter Valley this week after being selected for Dave Rennie’s 44-man touring squad to New Zealand. When McKellar was asked if his young protege was ready to wear the Wallaby no.10 jersey against the AB’s McKellar was unequivocal.
“Like we’ve done here, if you surround him with experience, a good forward pack, which they’ll have (the Wallabies) a good scrum, lineout, maul and he can play, if you get him on the front foot he’s very dangerous,” McKellar said.
“He’s certainly good enough and age goes out the window.”
Lolesio, a member of the Australian U-20 squad that reached the Junior World Cup final in 2019 where they came heartbreakingly close to lifting the trophy losing narrowly to France 23-24, is confident he can make the step up if he’s given a chance in the Bledisloe Cup arena.
“To be honest, I don’t really think about age when I’m on the field,” he said.
“Off the field, I’m probably a bit young.
“But on the field, I’m sure you just want a five-eighth that just knows his role and leads the boys around.
“So I just want to do my job.”
The Victory for the Brumbies was massively satisfying for McKellar just a few days after it was revealed that he had opted against taking the job of forwards coach under Dave Rennie.
“It feels really good because we had to work for it,” McKellar said of the Brumbies’ title success.
“It’s been a tough competition from one week to the next and having to deal with things like travel on game day and that sort of thing.”
“And to win it here and for our community as well, it’s been a pretty tough year down here with obviously COVID and the bushfires.”
“It’s just nice.”