U20s skipper wants to shake off demons

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australia U20s skipper Reece Hewat says the team is keen to shake off the reputation of the past, as the Oceania U20s kicks off.

Hewat has been appointed as captain for Australia’s first game against Samoa on Friday, and he said they needed to make an impression immediately.

Australia's U20s world championships record has been lean at best in recent times, with two fifth place-finishes their best since a third in 2011.

“It’s a new generation, a new crop of players and we’re ready to prove the point that we’re not the same,” he said.

There’s a personal motivation for the powerful backrower as well, who spent 16 months on the sideline before making his return in the Super U20s this season, helping the Reds to a second undefeated campaign.

Part of that long layoff was spent watching last year’s U20s side clinch an historic win over New Zealand, a feat that he hopes they can add to this time around.

Hewat hopes that successful run at state level transfers into some joy in this four-nation tournament and in June’s World Championships in Georgia.

“It’s always going to help coming off a successful 20s campaign,” he said.

“There’s lot of Queensland boys in this squad and in that winning mentality, which definitely rubs off and we’re ready to go.”

A former Australian Schoolboys captain and first XV skipper at Brisbane’s Nudgee College, Hewat said he wouldn’t be shy and retiring in the leadership role.

“I’m a big talker, I’m very verbal on the field chatting to the boys making sure everyone’s doing their job,” he said.

“I’ll get around the boys a lot, give some good gee ups and make sure we all know our roles.

“It means the absolute world.

“Representing your country is one thing but to be captain is a whole other level.”

He’s had some pretty good mentors when it comes to leadership and backrow quality since coming into the Reds U20s program as well.

The Oceania U20s captains. Photo: Oceania Rugby.“I’ve gone to a few of the older players like Scott Higginbotham, Hendrik Tui and George Smith about what needs to be done and they basically told me, ‘do what needs to be done and put your head down.”

“If I’m uncertain of anything, they’re always happy to answer my questions.

“George Smith was one of my favourite players and with what he’s accomplished, it’s great to be able to train alongside of him.

“You never expect something, but every session I’m learning off him and getting to know the little things he does.”

Hewat’s family are making the trek up from Wollongong for Friday night’s clash against Samoa, which kicks off at 7pm, following New Zealand vs Fiji.

Every game of the Oceania U20s will be LIVE STREAMED on RUGBY.com.au.


2017 Oceania Rugby U20s Championship

Round 1, Friday April 28

New Zealand vs Fiji, 5pm AEST

Australia vs Samoa, 7pm AEST

Round 2, Tuesday May 2

New Zealand vs Samoa, 3pm AEST

Australia vs Fiji, 5pm AEST

Round 3, Saturday May 6

Samoa vs Fiji, 5pm AEST

Australia vs New Zealand, 7pm AEST