Reds duo living the dream in Wallabies camp

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Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Reds flyhalf Hamish Stewart is living his dream in Wallabies camp this week as the youngster soaks up knowledge from some of his idols.

Stewart and fellow uncapped Reds Jordan Petaia, Liam Wright and Harry Hockings are all part of the wider training squad in Sydney, a big tick for the next generation of Queenslanders.

The 20-year-old was slated to come into camp in June but instead he was called up to join the Junior Wallabies in their World Cup campaign in France.

Stewart initially missed Wallabies coach Michael Cheika's call to invite him to train, before his World Cup call-up, but this time around there was no such phone tag.

"This time it was an email so I was able to check it," he laughed.

Two days into camp, Stewart was still adjusting to being alongside some of Australian rugby's stars, keen to make the most of his chance.

“It was a bit surreal this morning, having breakfast with David Pocock and just going at it and training with Bernie (Stephen Larkham) and you have to pinch yourself sometimes to know how lucky you are,” he said.

Hamish Stewart is staying with the Reds while the Junior Wallabies go to France. Photo: Getty ImagesStewart jumped at the opportunity to learn off Wallabies attack coach and rugby idol Larkham and is using the camp to learn as much as he can.

“It's freakish how he used to play, how he used to just slide through gaps and if you're a young kid and you're looking up to someone, I think he's the one you want to look up to,” he said.

With Jono Lance leaving the Reds, Stewart is set to take the playmaking reins in Queensland next season and the young pivot said his first regular Super Rugby season had helped him deal with that kind of pressure.

"Keeping a calm head whenever I'm in control of the game," he said.

 

"I've always got good players outside me helping me and telling me what to do, so it makes my life a lot easier."

Stewart's Queensland teammate Petaia burst onto the scene this year and the pair are in many ways the face of the next Reds backline, a young group led by established Test centre Samu Kerevi.

“Jords, he's a laidback character, he's raw talent,” Stewart said.

“Me and him haven't really played much footy together but hopefully we can get some games under the belt and get a good connection."

Jordan Petaia in Wallabies colours. Photo: Rugby AUPetaia has stepped up for the Reds in recent weeks at 13 with Kerevi injured but wing appears to be his preferred spot, with his strength and explosive pace making him a dangerous weapon on the edge.

Whatever position he finds himself him, Petaia said any chance to help push his credentials and improve the competition around the Test squad is something he would embrace.

“That'd be insane (playing for the Wallabies), you never know, but (I’ll) just keep training hard and just focus on this camp at the moment and just competing with the boys and just making everyone around us better,” he said.

“By competing with each other, help to bring the squad up and help to bring our level of competition up and just help everyone overall and just improve our performance.”

The 18-year-old still can’t quite believe how everything has unfolded, going from the Reds' youngest Super Rugby debutant to part of the wider Wallabies squad.

The non-Waratahs Wallabies squad members have been in Sydney this week, training ahead of next month’s Bledisloe.

The squad will be trimmed closer to the beginning of the Rugby Championship, with the first Bledisloe Cup on August 18 in Sydney.