Captaincy reward for Tuttle's toil

Brenden Hertell
by Brendan Hertel

The announcement of scrumhalf James Tuttle as the Australia U20s captain for the 2016 World U20s Championship is the culmination of three years of hard work for the former St. Joseph’s Nudgee College prodigy. 

“It’s an honour to be given the captaincy of the national side. I’ve had a few roles as captain before but nothing of this calibre, leading an Australian Under-20s side into a World Cup,” hesaid.

“I’m extremely humbled for the opportunity and excited for what lies ahead over the next four weeks.”

After graduating from school in 2013, Tuttle was down the scrumhalves pecking order in the 2014 Queensland U20s squad, with former captain and now fellow Queensland Reds teammate Scott Gale holding down the starting position.

Having toiled away in the Premier Rugby Colts competition for GPS, before emerging as the Ashgrove club's first choice flyhalf, Tuttle went on to represent Queensland Country in the first ever season of the National Rugby Championship (NRC).

James Tuttle has shown his leadership qualities for Queensland Country this season. Photo: Getty ImagesCurrent Australia U20s coaches Adrian Thompson and Jason Gilmore took the reins of Queensland Country in 2015, recognising the leadership capabilities of Tuttle and named him as captain for the season, while still just 19-years old.

“The NRC was a nine-week competition and there were different players to captain. We had some young guys as well as some more experienced players including Ed Quirk, Saia Fainga’a and Radike Samo, two of which have played for the Wallabies, so that was a different experience in itself," he said.

Tuttle was called into the Reds; match-day 23 following the Queensland U20s’ championship run through the inaugural Super U20s earlier this year. 

The young scrumhalf was named in the team for the past six Reds games leading into the June Test window.

His experience with the Reds, touring South Africa and New Zealand over the past two months, has allowed Tuttle to learn first hand from seasoned Reds and Wallabies leaders James Slipper and Rob Simmons.

“I learnt a few things from being around the older players in the Reds squad and studying guys like James Slipper and Rob Simmons, how they go about their business and little things they do to get the players up for games.

“Playing a few games this year has really put me at the point where I want to do the best I can over the next four weeks to help me set up what can be a good future for me in the game. Most of the boys in the squad will be doing the same thing. We’re at that point where Super Rugby is the next step and a lot of players, if they can perform over the next four weeks, can set themselves up for a career in Rugby and that should be a goal for the whole squad.”

After arriving in Manchester ahead of the World U20s Championship, Tuttle said the team was beginning to settle in after the long flight and that there is a good feeling among the group.

“Most of the players have gotten used to the time difference, there were a few guys early to bed last night, they were pretty tired after the 24 hours of travel from Australia. We hit the training paddock on Friday to get into it before Tuesday’s game. The boys are excited to get going.

“This year there is a lot more self-belief and self-confidence in the squad after beating New Zealand in the second game on the Gold Coast, it was the first time an Australian U20s side has beaten New Zealand. That was really good leading into the camp at Narrabeen and the two wins down there finished with a 66-nil win over NSW Country. There is a good feeling among the group that we can actually come over here and achieve good things, we want to get out of our pool and reach finals.”