A blast from the past has given Wallabies scrum-half Tate McDermott reason to pause and reflect ahead of next month’s three-Test series against England.
The Wallabies entered camp on the Sunshine Coast on Thursday, arriving at the resort where McDermott slaved away as a food and beverage attendant as a teenager.
Now, the 23-year-old is a chance to start in the Wallabies’ first Test of the year in Perth on July 2.
“It’s been a pretty good journey so far,” he said.
“Not only am I lucky to be here but just to have the players around me that I can learn off, guys like Nic White, Quade Cooper, Jake Gordon all those kinds of guys in this environment. What a brilliant chance for me to get better as a player and also as a person.”
McDermott said he’d already run into some familiar faces around the resort.
“The GM that was here when I was here is still here, a couple of my mates from school are working here as dish pigs,” he said.
“It’s awesome to be back.”
Cooper, Noah Lolesio and James O’Connor will begin mounting their cases to play fly-half when the Wallabies have their first field session on Saturday and McDermott said he looked forward to watching them compete.
“I’m really excited to see how that battle pans out,” McDermott said.
“They’re all very different players and I’ve always enjoyed playing with each and every one of them. I’m pretty excited to see where that heads.”
Each candidate brings a different CV to the table. Ending a four-year absence from the national side, Cooper was the chief architect of the Wallabies’ five-match winning streak last year playing at fly-half.
Cooper missed the Wallabies’ Spring Tour to play club rugby in Japan but has been lured back to Australia as one of coach Dave Rennie’s three international selections.
For his part, 22-year-old Lolesio guided the Brumbies to within an inch of this year’s Super Rugby Pacific final, while O’Connor is raring to play in a home Test series having missed last year’s with a groin injury.
Rennie could make the puzzle a little easier to solve by shifting O’Connor to fullback, but McDermott said things might not be that simple with Tom Banks and Andrew Kellaway already jostling for that spot.
“Of course he’s an option, but you’ve got to remember there’s some pretty good fullbacks here as well,” McDermott said.
“I’ll leave that to ‘Rens’ and ‘Wisey’ (assistant coach Scott Wisemantel). It will be a bit of a headache for them and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens there.”
McDermott said the competition wouldn’t end there; he himself will have a fight on his hands from him to usurp Nic White as scrum-half and fend off Waratahs captain Jake Gordon.
“That extra fierceness and competitiveness, not just the halfbacks but every position, will come out,” he said.