As far as backrow educations go, Michael Wells has been pretty fortunate.
In his third Super Rugby season, after switching from Sevens, Wells has played alongside David Pocock at the Brumbies and now with Michael Hooper at the Waratahs, two major influences on his career.
This weekend he looks set to reunite with his former mentor, with Pocock expected to make his long-awaited Super Rugby return in the Canberra derby against the Waratahs.
That he’s been able to pick the brains of Hooper and Pocock is a luxury not lost on Wells, and though they have contrasting on-field styles, there are plenty of similarities in the pair.
“Everything they do is (to) aim to get the best performances on the weekend and they prove it week in, week out,” he said.
“They go about their business every time, whether it's in the gym, off the field, they get themselves right.
“This is 100% what they're committed to and focused on, consummate professionals.”
Though he has learned a lot off both the players, Wells is looking to carve his own playing style out as
“I don't really try and model too much on anyone else, I'm just trying to do my job and my job is getting through plenty of work, allowing Hoops to inject himself where he can,” he said.
“If I just hit rucks, make my tackles and carry every now and then, that's me doing my job for the team.”
For the usual no. 8, who has spent more time at six this season, the Brumbies present somewhat of a straightforward challenge, though they’ll by no means be an easy opponent.
“There's no surprises (as to) what you get with the Brumbies,” he said.
“You're going to get a big forward pack who are happy to take it to you, the rolling maul speaks for itself so for us that's a big focus, it's a forward battle pretty much and if we can aim up against them, I think it will stand us in good stead.
“We haven't had a maul try against us so far and we hope to continue that. We know they're going to come at us and they’ll have aims of scoring one or two mauling tries against us. We're under no illusions it's a forward-based battle this week.
The Waratahs are 1-0 in their Aussie derbies this season, after beating the Rebels in round four, and Wells said these were battles they’d relish.
“This is really what we measure the success of our season against,” he said.
“If we're winning the home derbies consistently and we stand ourselves at the top of the Australian conference, that's where we want to be.”
Halfback Nick Phipps remains under an injury cloud for this weekend’s clash, still working his way back from a preseason calf injury.
The halfback spent much of Monday’s session apart from the main group, along with prop Sekope Kepu, doing mainly running, ahead of Saturday’s match.
The Waratahs travel to Canberra on Friday to take on the Brumbies on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT. Buy tickets here.