The first time Kyle Godwin met Stephen Larkham, he couldn’t believe the Wallabies legend knew his name.
It was in his first year at the Force and the inside back was injured, but ran into his childhood idol at the final game of the season, against the Brumbies.
“He had to do an interview in the box where I was as well and he said hello to me and knew my name so I was pretty pumped with that,” he said.
Larkham knows more than just his name now, signing Godwin at the Brumbies and also his key Wallabies mentor, as national attack coach, though his influence on the 24-year-old dates back well before his professional career began.
“He was actually my most admired player when I was growing up,” Godwin said.
“I really looked up to Bernie and he didn't really goal kick much when he was a Wallaby and that pretty much stopped me from goal kicking.
“He was an unbelievable flyhalf and I love watching him. To learn off him, I'm just so looking forward to this opportunity [playing at the Brumbies].”
Godwin has had glimpses of Test camps, this year more than ever, training with the squad in June and recalled again ahead of the Brisbane Test against the Springboks, and now a third time for the Spring Tour.
None of those trips has yielded a Test debut, but Godwin is adamant this five-week tour will be different.
“It made me realise that you can't take these opportunities for granted,” - Kyle Godwin
“I've had the privilege and the honour of being re-selected and I'll make sure that I don't take any of those days on tour for granted and put my best foot forward.
Godwin’s time appears to be looming, with an inside centre spot up for grabs in the Test fold, with both Larkham and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika calling on him to prove he is ready to debut.
“He's been on one of these tours before but this is an opportunity now with a little bit more experience and a better year behind him... I think he'll genuinely be putting his hand up for one of those playmaking roles in the backline,” Larkham said.
Cheika said he had seen a more confident Godwin in 2016, a trait exposed in training with the Wallabies shifting him into flyhalf at times.
“Even when we had Kyle in the training camps earlier in the season i think it's the best shape I've seen him in,” he said.
“Not just physically but a bit more confident in himself, more talk, getting in there and imposing himself on the game a little bit more.
“Kyle’s been there or thereabouts for a while. Maybe with some of the more established 12s that we've had in the past - Matty Toomua, Kurtley [Beale] or Matt Giteau now out of the picture [he has more of a chance],” he said.
“Reece [Hodge] is in there now, he's got him to contend with as well and also the previous combination of Cooper and Foley playing together, I’m not staying away from either, depending on the game.
“He's got competition but he’s got all the talent he needs to go up there and compete for a spot, without a doubt.
“It'll be up to him.”