Winger Mark Nawaqanitawase could barely hide his excitement as he caught up with new Wallabies defensive coach Brett Hodgson, looking to ensure his place in the national set-up with strong Waratahs performances.
“I was just telling him how crazy it is I used to watch him back in the day,” the winger said when asked about the meeting.
“I grew up watching the (Wests) Tigers so I’d head down to Leichhardt to watch him play so it’s pretty funny.
“It was just a friendly chat…They bring a new feel so they’re learning us and we’re learning them so it’s nice to connect.”
Nawaqanitawase has experienced a rapid 12-month rise, no longer fighting just to crack the Waratahs 23.
It leaves him as the Wallabies incumbent ahead of July's opening Test match against South Africa, with the 22-year-old not buying into the hype.
“I think if you think that way, it gets to your head,” he responded when asked about feeling like a Wallaby
“I just want to do my own thing and focus on going out each week and playing my game.
“When you start a new season or game, you have to build into the game and it helps when the team is doing well in that second half. We were able to move the ball well and I felt comfortable out there.”
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The Waratahs are eager to build momentum following their bonus-point win over the Fijian Drua.
Nawaqanitawase concedes they didn't handle to emotions and hype well enough in their opening-round defeat as the Brumbies spoiled their homecoming.
With a crucial match against the much-improved Rebels on the horizon on Friday, the winger was taking it one game at a time.
“There was a lot of hype and build around (the first game) but each week is different and we had to move on,” Nawaqanitawase said.
“If you keep holding on, it’ll play at your mind and you won’t be able to play the footy you want to. For us, it’s about focusing on the next job and what we can do.
“I think definitely (the experience will make us better), not to build ourselves up too much and stay level-headed. If you control and do what we plan to do, we can be a force against those top teams.”