Running out as Australian Schoolboys captain and singing the national anthem for the first time sent chills down Luke Gersekowski’s spine, but he feels like the main event has finally arrived, in the form of a clash with New Zealand.
Leading out the side has a special place for the Canberra local, who felt a rush of emotion captaining the team for the first time against Samoa, and standing in front of the Haka against the New Zealand Barbarians.
“It’s pretty awesome, I shed a few tears especially walking out against Samoa, it was something I never thought i could do," he said.
This weekend, Australia's opponents won’t be trying to intimidate them pre-match in red jerseys like the Barbarians and New Zealand's signature black jerseys will make it all the more real for the flanker.
“We have spoken about it here in camp and we just want to face up to it (the Haka) and enjoy it,” he said.
Australia finishes off its season with the New Zealand match, after wins over Fiji and Samoa and a loss to the New Zealand Barbarians last weekend.
Being the underdog against New Zealand is a familiar position for Australian rugby sides but Gersekowski said being the long shots didn’t worry them heading into the Auckland match-up.
“I think having the underdog status is really going to help us in the game,” he said.
“This year New Zealand have been the dominant side I think all the guys coming into this game are very pumped and very excited.
“That’ll help us as well as just trying to play against their game and not get stuck into what they want us to do.”
Seeing an ad on TV for the game while sitting in his hotel, reminded Gersekowski of the scale of the spectacle, which will be broadcast on FOX SPORTS in Australia and Sky in New Zealand and it’s a moment he said he was ready to embrace.
“It just makes you think about how important the game is, how high a level of footy it is and what an opportunity for everyone on both sides," he said.
The Aussie team has some familiar names among the group, with Isaac Lucas, younger brother of Ben, Tom and Matt, coming off the bench.
Australia's clash with New Zealand will be broadcast live on Fox Sports at 12:45PM (AEDT) on Saturday.
Australian Schools team (1-15)
Lloyd Gorman (Brisbane State High School), Lachlan Lonergan (Trinity Christian School), Opeti Helu (Newington College), Matthew Willshire (Toowoomba Grammar School), Esei Haangana (St Pauls Catholic College), Justin Sikimeti (St Patricks College), Luke Gersekowski (St Edmunds College), Sunia Finefeuiaki (Marcellin College), Ryan Lonergan (Trinity Christian School), Adam Doueihi (St Patricks College), Yirrbi Jaffer-Williams (St Joseph's College), Nick Wilkinson (St Joseph's College) Hunter Paisami (akenham Secondary School) William Eadie (St Joseph’s Gregory Terrace), Matthew McTaggart (St Joseph's College). Reserves: Sean Farrell (Brisbane Boys' College), Thomas Ross (Daramalan College), Laurence Tominiko (Keebra Park State High School), Rory Suttor (Shore), Fraser McReight (Brisbane Grammar School), Joshua Vuta (Somerset College), Isaac Lucas (St Joseph’s Gregory Terrace), Luke Osborne (The Kings School)
New Zealand Schools team (1-15)
Tim Farrell (Napier Boys’ High School), Bradley Slater (New Plymouth Boys’ High School), Robb Cobb (Mt Albert Grammar School), Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa (Mt Albert Grammar School), Laghlan McWhannell (St Peter’s School), Ajay Mua (King’s College), Sione Havili (Auckland Grammar School), Brayden Iose (C) (Palmerston North Boys’ High School), Carlos Price (St Kentigern College), Harry Plummer (St Peter’s College), Leicester Faingaanuku (Nelson College), Billy Proctor (St Patrick’s College Wellington), Caleb Clarke (Mt Albert Grammar School), Mosese Dawai (Feilding High School), Ngane Punivai (Christ’s College) Reserves: Flynn Thomas (Southland Boys’ High School), Xavier Numia (St Patrick’s College Wellington), Damon Abraham (Sacred Heart College), Sam Dickson (Otago Boys’ High School), Naera Tipoki (Gisborne Boys’ High School), Tim Hogan (Otago Boys’ High School), Lincoln McClutchie (Hastings Boys’ High School), Scott Gregory (Whangarei Boys’ High School)