'There's no place I'd rather be': Boost for Aussie rugby as young gun commits to Waratahs

Super Rugby - AU
by Christy Doran

Their finals hopes are in the hands of the gods, but the Waratahs can build their club around their young playmaker Will Harrison after the 21-year-old signed a new three-year deal.

Harrison's re-signing is a massive boost for Australian rugby and a good sign for the future of the game in the country.

Even without a broadcast deal in play for 2021 and beyond, the Junior Wallabies playmaker is the latest prodigious talent to commit to the game Down Under.

Harrison made his debut for the Waratahs in the opening match of the season against the Crusaders.

It was a mature display against the world's best club team in their own territory in Christchurch.

Less than two months later All Blacks fly-half Aaron Cruden said he was very impressed by Harrison's introduction to Super Rugby.

"I was extremely impressed," Cruden told Fox Sports following the Chiefs' big win over the Waratahs back in March.

"I told him that I'm really happy for him and excited about what he can do.

"You never like to put too much pressure on young players but I'm sure he's got higher honours. He's got all the assets a first-five needs; a great kicking game, very composed, very calm and can challenge the line which in the modern game you need."

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland added: "He's definitely a player for the future and one they hopefully stick with and give some time.

"There was a comment we made in the box about his running game and (the fact he) went to the line and kicked pretty well. It was a good performance."

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Those comments sum up the feeling about Harrison and his potential to lead not only the Waratahs forward, but perhaps the Wallabies too.

With Harrison and Brumbies young gun Noah Lolesio emerging in 2020, Australian rugby has two exciting young playmakers in the system. Both men have been included in Dave Rennie's Players of National Interest squad and could feature in his squad for upcoming Bledisloe series against the All Blacks next month.

Others like teenager Reesjan Pasitoa are being slowly exposed to Super Rugby.

Harrison became just the third Waratah to score 100 points or more in their debut season last month. In doing so, he joined some rare company in Matt Burke and Peter Hewat.

The Randwick product said there was no club he'd rather be at than the Waratahs.

"I'm really excited to have my future locked in here and continue that journey over the next few seasons - there's nowhere else I'd rather be," Harrison said in a statement.

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His coach Rob Penney said Harrison's work ethic and commitment made him the player he was blossoming into.

"In such a difficult position to play he's shown us his decision-making ability, temperament and his physicality - he doesn't shirk any of his work out there which has been positive to see."

Rugby Australia Director of Rugby added: Will is a terrific young man and developing into a fine player as well. He's had a good year steering the ship at the Waratahs for this season of Super Rugby AU and he will be better for it.

"I'm excited in our next crop of young talent. They're mature beyond their years but they are also full aware that they need to continue knuckling down and working hard is they want to reap the rewards."