'I surprise myself': Harrison opens on game-winner as Coleman reflects on critical Coogee Beach discussions

Sat, Apr 13, 2024, 9:20 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Will Harrison slots it home in extra-time to seal an epic come from behind win for the Waratahs

Will Harrison believes his past injury struggles set him up mentality to kick the game-winner against the Crusaders.

Harrison twice nailed clutch kicks to keep the Waratahs firing in 2024, first nailing the penalty to send the game into extra-time before slotting the drop goal three minutes into extra time.

Catch every game of the Super Rugby Pacific LIVE, ad-free and on demand on Stan Sport.

The 24-year-old is often the last to leave the training paddock and the playmaker was practising field goals on Thursday, slotting in with flyhalf Tane Edmed as the two worked on their craft.

His calmness and composure shows his growth, having missed a similar conversion in 2021 against the Brumbies, 'reaping the rewards' of a hellish two year period that saw him spend over 700 days on the sidelines.

“I’ve always prided myself on trying to be the hardest worker in the room,” Harrison said after the game.

“I love practising my craft (and) I’ve always loved kicking… if you asked my parents, I probably skipped a bit of homework to get down to Kensington Oval pretty early as a young fella to kick until the lights went out.

“It’s just like anything, the more you practice, the better you’re going to get and the more confident you’re going to be so to have a moment like that, I was pretty calm.

“...I surprise myself. In the past, I feel like I’ve had those nerves creep into me, but I think a lot of it has got to do with what I’ve been through the last couple of years being in pretty tough situations, uncomfortable situations. To get through that, I think I’m reaping the rewards of that right now.”

Waratahs coach Darren Coleman was beaming with pride talking about Harrison, often referring to him as one of, if not the, most popular member of the group.

Harrison was off contract at the end of 2023 and it took a conversation between the two at Coogee Beach to convince Coleman to pull the trigger on an one-year extension.

“It’s cool watching his family, seeing his Dad and Mum in tears,” he said.

"I remember going with him down to Coogee Beach when we were talking about what we do with him, around re-signing because he was off contract, (fearing) his knee wouldn’t sort of handle footy again.

“We talked it all through because I know that there’s not too many more determined than him. We talked about how that might look and, contractually, we got there and, yeah, I was just so happy for him and all he’s gone through. It’s a perfect little story.”

"I think I was in a tricky situation last year doing my knee," Harrison recalled of the conversation.

"It was tough but I used that as motivation. Missing out on opportunities to play for my state and potentially my country in the last two years has been tough. I've used it as fuel and I've worked incredibly hard, spent more time in our facility than my home in the last 12 months getting my game and knee right.

"It feels bloody good because the hard work paid off."

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