Hanigan not letting haters affect his game

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Ned Hanigan has copped plenty of criticism from all corners in his short, seven Test career.

His meteoric rise, from reserve Waratah to starting blindside for the Wallabies in the space of six months, has had its challenges in that regard.

Coach Michael Cheika has backed Hanigan to the hills, asking him to play a role that doesn't catch the eye.

It's a role that serves it's purpose for the team, not the individual, but that hasn't stopped the constant wave of criticism that flows his way.

"I don’t read a lot of it but obviously you get a bit of a gist of it because I’m on Instagram and things like that,” Hanigan told RUGBY.com.au.

“People are entitled to their own opinions and I’ve always said that particular flack came more so after the game in Perth and I think deservedly so.Ned Hanigan has had a huge 2017. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley“I didn’t perform to the ability that I know I can.

“I definitely didn’t perform to the ability that my teammates know and that I think I can.

“Cheik showed a lot of faith to pick me against Argentina and like you said, my role is a bit different so I guess just making sure the inner circle backs me.

“That’s what I look for.”

Part of the fire that drives Hanigan is the fear of falling out of the squad.

Jack Dempsey will wear the No. 6 on Sunday morning (AEST) as Cheika searches for his best backrow combination and that competition for a starting spot is what drives him.Hanigan and Dempsey are great mates off field but competing for the same spot on field. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley“There is a thing about Test footy that everyone in the squad here is so close to one another in terms of people just being able to take other people’s positions and things like that,” Hanigan said.

“At the start of the year I think I was in New Zealand when the squad got announced for June and I was in disbelief, so I would be silly going into every week that I have a grasp on the six jersey when I 100 percent don’t.”

Plenty has been written about Hanigan’s sheer joy at being named in each Wallabies squad to date but the 22-year-old was direct when asked if he felt comfortable at Test level.

“We’ve openly said we want to be the best team in the world so if you sit back and thing how good is this, you kind of react to what is going on and you keep finishing where you already are,” he said.

“Saying to yourself how good is it is no good because you’ve got to be proactive, step forward, get amongst it and take everything as it comes.

“It can get taken from you real quick and if you’re on the back foot thinking how good it is while it’s happening you don’t go and reach for what’s out there.

“Obviously my family and myself are extremely proud but we’ve got a job to do this weekend against South Africa and I’m really looking forward to it.”

The Wallabies take on the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Sunday night, kicking off at 1am AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.