Canberra product Jordan Jackson-Hope has experienced a meteoric rugby rise, making his Super Rugby debut for the Brumbies after representing the Australia U20s against New Zealand on the Gold Coast.
Jackson-Hope missed the Australia U20s camp in Narrabeen ahead of the World U20s Championship, called back to the nation’s capital to join the Brumbies,.
Named for the ACT side in their clash against the Melbourne Rebels, the young playmaker entered the match with 13 minutes left on the clock, to make his Super Rugby debut at inside centre.
“It was a very surreal feeling, it’s something I have wanted to do since I was about four years old,” he said.
“I used to go to the Brumbies game as a junior and watch the boys run around so for me it was very special. It happened so quick, I was just trying to soak up the experience.”
Having only joined the Brumbies on a full-time basis following the 2016 pre-season, a Super Rugby call up in his first season was not on his radar.
Jackson-Hope had his mind set on an Australian U20s jersey, after featuring for the Brumbies Colts in the inaugural Super U20s Championship.
“It was difficult juggling the two. When I was called back to the Brumbies I was away from U20s camp. Coming back I was worried that I might have missed out on a bit, but the playing group have been really helpful. It’s been an easy transition back into the 20s program," he said.
Having debuted against the Rebels and crossing for his first ever Super Rugby try against the Sunwolves a game later, Jackson-Hope believes he can transition learnings from his Super Rugby experience into the U20s program.
“I think the two games for the Brumbies have provided me with a better idea of what to expect heading into the World U20s Championship," he said.
"Both are high levels of the game yet different, but anything I can learn at the Super Rugby level is going translate into the U20s.”
Part of his education with the Brumbies comes from time spent with club stalwarts and Wallabies Christian Lealiifano and Matt Toomua, as well as head coach and former Wallabies pivot Stephen Larkham.
“I’ve gained so much from my experience at the Brumbies so far, Christian Leallifano and Matt Toomua have really taken me under their wing and I’ve learnt a lot from them, both on and off the field," he said.
"Their helping me to work hard and find new ways to improve. Even though they are both at the top level, they’re always trying to improve and they have such a strong work ethic.
“Stephen (Larkham) has been massive, it’s great being coached by him. He likes to play an attacking style of rugby and encourages the backs to use their skills. It’s the type of rugby I like to play and I’m really enjoying the setup down in Canberra at the moment.”
The Australian U20s play their first match of the World U20s Championship next Tuesday against Scotland, kick-off at 5:30pm (Wednesday 2:30am AEST).