Bryce Hegarty doesn’t want to be Bernard Foley’s fill-in, taking ownership in his time at flyhalf.
Foley returned to Sydney midway through the Waratahs’ South Africa tour, to see a neurologist over ongoing concussion symptoms, with no return date set for the first-choice 10.
Hegarty has stepped up in the opening two matches and will be picked in the primary playmaker role against the Sharks this Sunday morning (AEDT).
Though he’s taking the place of one of the club’s longest-serving flyhalves, Hegarty said he simply had to take control of the team and put thoughts of being Foley’s understudy behind him.
“Certainly that’s what you have to do straight away and that’s what I’m really focusing on this week is putting everything out of my mind and just taking control of the team,” he said.
“We need good leaders and I’m more than happy to step up into that role and that’s what I want for myself as well.
“I’ve played a fair amount of football now - i had last year off- but I’m really confident in my abilities and the abilities of the boys around me and I think we’ve got an exciting team, an attacking team and hopefully we can produce some exciting stuff this weekend.
Foley was close to being named in the Waratahs’ team last week before failing a Thursday morning concussion test, but Hegarty said the uncertainty hadn’t affected him.
“You always expect that you might be starting no matter what, we’re kind of told that from day dot and everyone’s ready to stand up and play their role within the team,” he said.
It’s not as though Hegarty has never steered the side before - with Foley on Wallabies duties, Hegarty led the Waratahs in preseason training and started at 10 in their first trial, experiences that made the transition easier.
Even before coming to the Waratahs, Hegarty had racked up 31 Super Rugby matches with the Rebels, so the 24-year-old is no rookie.
While Hegarty’s promotion has no end date just yet, the competition for the spot inside him is a little more immediate.
Matt Lucas was solid for the Waratahs against the Lions, in the absence of Nick Phipps (ankle) and though it seems Phipps will return to start this weekend, backs coach Chris Malone reiterated preseason sentiment that there were no guarantees.
“It’s fair to say Matt has done a pretty good job and it was great to see Jake Gordon debut last weekend too. So there’s three guys there,” he said.
“Nick Phipps has obviously been an important part of our team for a long time but doesn’t mean he necessarily has to start.
“If Nick comes back this weekend, he’s got good experience here and he can only add to our team.”
The Waratahs take on the Sharks on Sunday morning at 4:30am AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.