One thing motivates Angus Bell as he looks to take the next step: Becoming the best loosehead in Australia and the World.
The 21-year-old has stepped up as a regular for the Waratahs and Wallabies, looming as a key piece of Dave Rennie's plans for the future.
However, not even a breakthrough International start could please Bell in what he called a 'below standard season' such are the expectations he sets on himself.
“I feel like I’m up to a better standard physically than I was last year…personally I wasn’t happy with how I was playing this year in Test matches and I have a lot more to give. I wasn’t up to the standard I wanted to be it,” he told reporters.
“I want to be the best loose-head in Australia. I want to start for my country.
"Last year, I felt like I achieved that in spots and started a couple of times but when I got those opportunities, I wasn’t quite accurate enough in some areas and Dave (Rennie) let me know about it and then put me back on the bench.
“Personally, I know what I can do on the field and still want to keep pushing myself to have a greater impact and a better loosehead at the international level.
“I learnt a lot from (James Slipper) last year but my goals are not to sit behind someone, I want to be the number one loosehead in Australia and the world so I’ll keep pushing myself physically, mentally in the pre-season and try and make myself better.”
Bell was straight into training after the Spring Tour and a cancelled Barbarians stint, instantly impressed by the standards set by new coach Darren Coleman.
“I just trained through (the pre-season) to get better physically and technically. I didn’t really have a break this year, I came into the squad open-eyed and DC’s (Darren Coleman) been running an awesome ship.
“It was pretty refreshing and eye-opening, it was an awesome experience to join the squad under a fresh coach who pushes the standards.
“…I came in early to get a head start on my fitness but DC’s come with a harder approach and is really pushing standards and working hard for each other which is a great value for a team to have.”
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The 22-year-old will get a chance to impress in Saturday's opening trial of 2022 as they take on the Brumbies in Bowral.
It pits Bell against two of his biggest mentors within the current Wallabies: legendary loosehead James Slipper and forwards coach Dan McKellar.
“Watching and learning off Slips, he’s a man of not many words and when it comes to go-time, he’s one of the best," he added. "You can ask anyone in Australia and they’ll have the same opinion about what he does and what he brings to a team and training physically."
“Dan’s big on action. He’s big on working hard and that’s where the respect is gained and inspires a team to do better