Test debut about respect for Alaalatoa

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Don’t expect the pressure to get to Allan Alaalatoa if he earns a Wallabies debut this season.

In fact, for the young prop earning that chance would actually be the least stressful part of his national journey, running out safe in the knowledge that 22 players and an army of coaching staff backed him.

“It’s probably more so gaining the respect from the boys to be there, just getting that acknowledgement from everyone here is something that would mean a lot more to me,” he said.

“To be in that 23 would mean I know that I’ve got the acceptance of the coaches and from the playing group.

“That’s when you know you have no pressure to perform because everyone’s going to back you and be in your corner.”

Coming into camp this week, the Brumbies prop wasn’t sure what reception to expect, as the new kid on the block, but he needn’t have worried about any frostiness.

“I wasn’t too sure how it all works here with the culture and whether other people give me tips but I’ve got the feel already that everyone’s welcoming me with open arms,” he said.

“It’s only just making me more excited and more keen for the boys.”

Scott Sio has been a helping hand for Allan Alaalatoa. Photo: ARU Media/Brian HookOld friend Scott Sio was there to help him out, navigating him through a hectic commercial day, ticking off boxes from television commercial shooting to being fitted for a suit.

That easy introduction, Alaalatoa said, took his mind off the competition for spots and squarely on the bigger picture of improving and working hard at training, without having to sleep with one eye open.

“Probably takes the nerves away from realising what the main reason is of why you’re here.

“Obviously playing for your country is a nerve wracking thing but to have that welcoming environment is very exciting for me and I’m just more than blessed to be here.”

If Alaalatoa were to clinch a Test debut, it might be just a few years until he finds himself lining up against brother Michael.

The elder Alaalatoa recently extended a stint with the Crusaders for another two seasons, meaning he could be eligible for the All Blacks under the World Rugby residency rules.

Allan and Mike Alaalatoa have already clashed in Super Rugby. Photo: Getty ImagesAllan said the possibility had crossed his mind that he could face his brother in a Test but however it turned out, he would be supportive.

“He didn’t have an opportunity before he went to New Zealand so to see him now doing really well is something that I’m really proud of and I’m always going to back him no matter what path he takes.

“There’s chat there (that we might play against each other in a Test) but there’s a little while to go (before he is eligible).

“If that happens, it's another milestone for us.”