At just the tender of 20, Melbourne Rebels star Sean McMahon is very much the poster boy of the Australian Rugby Union’s Pathways program.
Beginning his professional Rugby career at the age of 17, the tough flanker has seen his stocks rise to such an extent that he is on the brink of pulling on the Green and Gold Wallabies jersey for the first time.
Being named in new Qantas Wallabies Head Coach Michael Cheika’s first squad capped an incredible 12 months that has seen the Queenslander make his Super Rugby debut, captain Australia at the IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand, represent his country at the Commonwealth Games in Rugby Sevens before turning in a host of rampaging performances in the inaugural Buildcorp National Rugby Championship.
The result of these endeavours?
Helped NRC side Melbourne Rising to top spot after the regular season with eight wins out of eight; one Commonwealth Games Bronze Medal in Glasgow; named Super Rugby Rookie of the Year at the John Eales Medal for his displays with the Melbourne Rebels; named Buildcorp NRC Player of the Series with the Melbourne Rising; named Australian Under 20s Player of the Year at the John Eales Medal
McMahon’s rise can be tracked back to 2011 when he was the youngest player to represent Australia in Rugby Sevens, before he joined the Melbourne Rebels squad in December 2013. A little more than five months later he had impressed to the extent that he was offered a new two-year deal with the Victorian franchise.
With his vast experience in international Rugby Sevens as well as his inclusion in the Melbourne Rebel’s run-on side, it was no shock when McMahon was named Captain of the Australian U20 side that travelled to New Zealand in June to compete in the IRB Junior Rugby World Championship.
“It’s definitely been the biggest year of my rugby life,” admits McMahon.
“The Rebels have provided me with a hell of an opportunity and have built me up to get me playing 15-a-side Rugby to the best of my ability. I guess I push myself as hard as everybody else, and I don’t let my age be an excuse for anything.
His biggest challenge? “Playing against (Jacques) Potgeiter at the Waratahs was a massive challenge; he’s a very physical, big man, and very tough to play against. It was a good experience having a crack at him though.
“I love competition. That’s the best part about being a Rugby player.”
Having been named on the bench for the Australia’s clash with the Barbarians on the weekend, McMahon is now just a tap on the shoulder from Michael Cheika away from completing the most remarkable journey from Super Rugby novice to fully-fledged Wallaby.
Sean McMahon’s golden 2014 at-a-glance
February - Makes Super Rugby debut for Melbourne Rebels against the Cheetahs at AAMI Park
April – Agrees new two-year contract with the Melbourne Rebels
May – Named captain of the Australian Under 20s squad taking part at the IRB Junior Rugby World Championship
June – Led Australia to fifth place at the IRB Junior Rugby World Championship
July – Named in the Australian Rugby Sevens Commonwealth Games squad, helping his country to a Bronze Medal
July – Named Melbourne Rebels Rookie of the Year
August – Makes debut for the Melbourne Rising in the inaugural Buildcorp National Rugby Championship
September – Played a starring role as the Melbourne Rising racked up 194 points in the month
October - Named in Michael Cheika’s 33-man Wallabies Squad for the Spring Tour
October – Wins three accolades at the John Eales Medal