Waratahs rookie Angus Bell feels like he was destined to be a prop but the 19-year-old represents a new age of front rowers.
Bell was one of the Waratahs’ best in their 29-17 win over the Lions on Friday night, most notably in the early stages when he sprinted away for the opening try and sparked the chain that led to their second.
The ability to break through into space is an element that props are increasingly having to add to their game, along with slick offloading skills and other attacking weapons.
Bell’s running game has long made him stand out for someone of his size but as a prop, though, he was quick to express his love for the dark arts of scrummaging.
‘My heart says ( I prefer the feeling of) running out in the clear but I've got to say scrumming,” he said.
“I love scrums and just love some running rugby and being positive and being confident as a team and you know obviously getting points and winning.”
The sight of Bell accelerating is an exciting one for Waratahs fans with the teenager possessing skills few front rowers are born with.
Bell doesn’t just looked like he has pace either - the Waratahs count him among some of their fastest forwards.
Forwards coach Matt Cockbain admitted even he was amazed by Bell’s speed..
“I don't think I've ever seen that from a prop, the way he can move is unbelievable for a guy of his size,” he said.
“He's 120kg, rock hard, he's a muscly kid and he's fast as well.
“He's up there as fast as most of our backrowers in terms of metres per second.
“We know that, we've got hard data on it. But the kid can play, he's got a real sense of the game and for a young guy he scrummages very well as well.
“Having a father who's an ex-front rower has obviously paid off.”
While he started at the back of the scrum, Bell followed his father Mark’s footsteps into the front row.
“I think it's more genetics. I've been given the short end of the straw, always been a bit bigger than others,” he said.
“I knew from the age of 13 or 14 that I was destined to be in the front row as I got a little bit bigger and a little bit heavier but since then I've just loved the front row and loved playing footy and getting out there with some of the more experienced boys.
“I was a no.8 but then I got a bit vertically challenged and put on a few kilograms that were unaccounted for and slowly moved forward in the scrum and ended up a front row.”
Former Wallaby Mark Bell is now the scrum coach at the Waratahs and while Angus said they were very clear about not taking their work home, he had plenty to thank his dad for.
“It's very professional relationship, we don't talk much rugby at home, we try and keep it very separate,” he said.
“Having him as a resource is awesome and I've learned so much and that's probably why I’ve progressed my scrummaging a lot quicker than a lot of others have but...I'm still learning and soaking off the older guys around me.
“All the players I come up against have taught me a new lesson and I'm just trying to put my best foot forward and learn as much as I can in such a short space of time and hopefully play the best rugby I can.”
It’s Bell’s athleticism that had rugby league clubs sniffing around as he prepared to graduate from school but Bell said rugby was always his dream destination.
“It was always rugby union,” he said.
“I loved the game and I loved the morale around it and the boys.
“It's an awesome game and I'm just privileged to play it at this level and I'm loving every moment.”
The Waratahs take on the Chiefs on Friday March 6 at WIN Stadium, Wollongong, kicking off at 7:15pm AEDT, LIVE on Foxtel, Kayo Sports and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. The Brumbies will also take on the Sunwolves earlier in the day, kicking off at 2:45pm AEDT.