It’s been ‘all or nothing’ for Joe Powell in 2017, with the halfback preparing for one of the biggest moments of his career on Friday night.
A crack at the starting nine spot this year came at the expense of regular scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli - Powell’s pivotal Super Rugby moment.
“I think I was probably thrown into it a little bit the start of the year, which is probably a good thing,” he said.
“I didn't have the opportunity to not play well, there was no second-guessing, it was all or nothing.”
Regular starts may have helped him move somewhat beyond the ‘whirlwind rookie’ tag that he’s worn since being a shock call-up in last year’s Wallabies June Series squad.
An added dose of confidence from racking up the game time has shone through in a breakout season for Powell, who ultimately earned his Test debut off the back of that form.
Playing alongside first-year 10 Wharenui Hawera has helped that step as well, the 22-year-old able to come into his own in tandem with a playmaking partner, rather than shadowing an established teammate.
“I think both me and him (Hawera) haven't really started much at all so I think coming through with someone like that has been really helpful as well, not being overpowered by someone else has been really good,” he said.
“I've got a lot more confidence from playing and being around the boys a heap more and finding a voice a lot more on the field.”
In games, Powell doesn’t shy away from instructions but it’s not something that’s necessarily come naturally.
“In the heat of the moment on the field it's all good but it's probably just the little things around training where I need to improve on but it's been alright,” he said.
Powell showed the rugby world a glimpse of his attacking prowess the last time the Brumbies and Hurricanes met, scoring his only Super Rugby try that night, and it’s something he wouldn’t mind repeating in the sudden-death match.
“That's the only try I've scored so I wouldn't mind getting another one but it was a really good team try and hopefully we can do the same again tomorrow night,” he said.
“Tomorrow night it's going to be wet and dewy so we want to play in the right end of the field, don't want to run it out of our end too much but if there's opportunities we'll definitely take them.”
On Friday night, Powell will go head-to-head with TJ Perenara, a man he rates the form halfback in Super Rugby but as much admiration as he as for his quarter-final foe, the Kiwi sees something of himself in the Brumbies youngster.
“What I have seen of him and when we played against him I rate him,” Perenara said on Thursday.
“He's a good player, he's fast, he enjoys attacking footy.
“I'm a player who enjoys attacking footy as well - I probably get hassled for that I enjoy a bit too much to be fair - but to see other nines out there running the ball, having fun playing the game we all love, it's good to see.”
Powell was on the bench for last year’s tense quarter-final against the Highlanders, as much a spectator as anything else, but he remembers the post-match feeling acutely.
“It was a terrible feeling but I think we've got to move on but hopefully it won't be the same this year,” he said.
As for the next step in his journey? Thoughts of that will have to wait.
“This is the biggest game I've been a part of, so I think I haven't really looked too far forward at all.”
The Brumbies take on the Hurricanes on Friday night, kicking off at 7:35pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.