Tim Anstee came to the notice of rugby sevens fans around the world when he ran in three tries in as many minutes on Day One of the Sydney Sevens tournament in February.
The 19-year-old is one of the teenage recruits who have become the faces of the Aussie Sevens program this season.
Sydney was his fourth World Series tournament and his best yet.
“Playing in front of a big home crowd and for my country - it was pretty special!”
Anstee was signed up to the squad last year under what is called a Tier One or Training contract which offers an opportunity to train with the main squad at Narrabeen as often as possible around other life commitments, working towards a full contract.
He was told that this was about training and he would be lucky to play more than a couple of tournaments.
But given the injury issues head coach Andy Friend faced as the international season began in December, the young university student soon found himself being considered in the selection mix and heading to Dubai.
Anstee is studying for a business degree and under his Tier One contract is required to attend training as much as his university commitments allow.
“I was fulltime at uni last year when I signed the contract so it was a bit of juggling; but this year I’ve gone to part-time,” he said.
Noting that while his family was not particularly sporty he considers himself to have been a pretty sporty kid, with rugby especially grabbing his attention at an early age.
“I always loved my sports growing up. When I was very young I played two years of soccer. But I’ve played rugby ever since Under7s, with cricket in the summer and a bit of touch footy on the side,” he said.
Anstee’s star power https://t.co/OXPTp8Nqky via @hillsnews1— Jill Scanlon (@jdscanlon) March 3, 2017
Like most kids, inspiration for bigger sporting possibilities came from watching the Wallabies in 2003.
“It was probably from the 2003 Rugby World Cup - my family were never really into rugby but I had a couple of mates that played and I watched the World Cup. Then I got right into it and loved it,” said Anstee.
His rugby journey has also seen him represent Australia at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa and last year in the World University Championships – an early taste of international competition and success.
But Anstee admits stepping up to the elite level has been a shock.
“It’s definitely the next level up. These boys are pretty big and pretty strong so you’ve got to lift your game when you play them and be ready. It’s a great challenge,” he said.
Just beginning his sporting career means rugby is essentially the main focus, if not often the only focus, in his life at the moment.
“I’m training four or five days a week, constantly thinking about it and watching it on TV. But when I get the chance I do like to go to the beach or hang out with mates - it’s a good gig.” - Tim Anstee
The young Aussie team’s efforts in Sydney, and particularly his own performance has given the whole group a new level of confidence.
With a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude Anstee said they just focused on their skills and getting the little things right.
“We went into Sydney just believing in each other. We knew that if we stuck to our game plan we could perform in any game against any opposition,” he said.
“I think the belief was just big - when we went out there we were just giving it our best and having a crack.”
Like all kids growing up with a Wallaby dream Anstee may look to XVs down the track but he believes sevens is a great game to build up essential skills for a young player.
“It’s good for developing your game in terms of your core rugby skills – you have to be good at each facet of the game (to survive and succeed),” he said.
“You have to be really clinical, whereas in a game of XVs you can hide some of that; but in sevens, if you’re not clinical at each one of those skills you’re going to get found out.”
While the advantage of youth is highlighted by the enthusiasm with which Anstee plays, the downside is learning to cope with the rigours of what is a very physically and mentally demanding sport.
“It’s definitely tough – especially those back-to-back tournaments,” said Anstee.
“It’s all the one percenters they talk about. But it is mentally tough too. You wake up drained and you’re really sore as well, even though you’ve got a job to do on the second day and the second leg of the tournaments,” he said.
The upside though, according to Anstee, is that with sevens, you do get to travel the world.
As part of the future of Australian rugby, Anstee is full of praise for the support and leadership he and his teammates have received from the senior players like Lewi Holland and Ed Jenkins with Myers and Stannard equally supporting them on the field.
“They’re really good for us young boys, they give us a lot of confidence. We do analysis where one of the older guys grabs one of the younger ones and sits down to do the analysis together,” he said.
“So it’s a really good learning curve for us younger boys - learning off the older guys - developing our game and trying to seek out their knowledge.” - Tim Anstee
Anstee is the fresh face of the next generation – youth, enthusiasm, raw talent and adrenalin.
“We’ve got so many young boys in the squad that it’s good having that leadership and that knowledge there to help us develop our game and I think it’s showing on the field now,” said Anstee.