Kyle Godwin has been on the Wallabies fringes for the past two years, but he’ll no longer be tagged as a "potential Wallaby", finally making his Test debut this weekend.
The 24-year-old has been named to start at inside centre for the Wallabies, with Reece Hodge left out of the France Test this weekend and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika wants him to make the most of his chance.
“I saw a little fist pump down there when he was told,” he said.
“He’s a very passionate lad, he’s (had) a dream to play for Australia and he’s been very close and there and thereabouts.
“A few injuries have stopped him.. The first part of it, I’m really pleased he’s been selected and I want to be pleased at the end of the game that he played the best he could on his first cap.”
Godwin’s inclusion brings some intrigue to the Wallabies lineup, adding an air of mystery for their French opponents.
“I just think he’s very well-rounded. He’s got good footwork, I don’t want to say too much because I don’t know if the French will know too much but he’s a good defender,” he said.
“What I like most about him is he’s so genuine - he genuinely wants to play as hard as he can for as long as he can.
“He loves his footy and I think his eagerness to work and train and work on the small things has really impressed me.”
Godwin’s first tour was also Cheika’s debut as Wallabies coach and the former Force player impressed the coach that time around, before two injury-hampered seasons pushed him down the pecking order.
That has haunted Godwin somewhat, but brought out an extra appreciation of what it means to play for the national team.
“I had some honest conversations with the coaches and people around me just to get some feedback from where they thought I must improve my game and took that away and tried to implement it and work hard in the NRC and the Super Rugby season this year,” he said.
“There was a lot that I learnt on that tour. One of them was don’t take this opportunity for granted. I completed that tour and didn’t make the squad for the 2015 season and it really made me realise that you can’t take these opportunities for granted.”
Despite the hard times, Godwin said he never expected an easy ride to the Test team, even after his early earmarking as a Wallabies prospect.
“He’s not going to hand out a jersey and obviously I wasn’t ready at that point in time and he’s shown faith in me and hopefully I can repay that faith and put my best foot forward on the weekend," - Kyle Godwin
Godwin will be lining up with a familiar face on Saturday, his Force teammate Luke Morahan playing at fullback, in his first Test start since 2012, and the outside back expressed his pride in Godwin at the news.
“I’m ecstatic for him, he’s worked really hard and thoroughly deserves it, so it’s fantastic for him and for someone who is a great mate of his, it’s great for me to see the enjoyment he’s had all week, the buzz he’s had around the team,” he said.
Australia vs France will be screened LIVE on SBS and Foxtel’s beIn Sports 3 (channel 515) kicking off at 7am Sunday AEDT.