Bolter Brumbies banging on Eddie Jones' World Cup door
Dominant Super Rugby Pacific form is putting a string of Brumbies players into the Wallabies pipeline, with a number of lesser-known talents looking to feature at this year's World Cup.
Eleven Brumbies featured in Eddie Jones' first 33-player Wallabies training squad earlier this year, with another four ruled out with injuries.
Among them were unheralded 23-year-old prop Rhys Van Nek, who'd only made 17 Super Rugby Pacific appearances before his call-up, replacing fellow Brumby Blake Schoupp, who'd earned his selection after just five games.
There's sure to be a strong Brumbies theme through Jones' World Cup squad later this year, with young talents like five-eighth Noah Lolesio and winger Corey Toole both banging the door down for their own spots.
Van Nek said Brumbies culture meant teammates demand more from each other, driving form improvements that would help the side as well as catch the eye of national selectors.
"All those accolades, all those things don't really matter, that's gonna take care of itself," he said.
"That's where I want to be, and that stems from pushing myself and pushing my teammates to get into there and they're doing the same to me.
"Something I've found this year a lot is everyone's pushing each other to be better, building consistent games off that and consistently training at a high level."
Van Nek said his relationship with Jones was in its infancy, but he was another strong rugby mind to lean on as he develops.
"He's just gotten to know me and I've gotten to know him a bit, just the basics - 'where you from? I like your game'," he said.
"And then discussions of where we can grow my game. It's been really good.
"At the start of the year I wasn't thinking I'd get to here ... I'm taking everything on, listening to everybody, just being a sponge.
"I've got so many older guys here I can learn off, and the coaches are world-class as well ... (I'm) just soaking up all that information."
Another potential bolter - utility forward Tom Hooper - was also on Jones' radar, although major shoulder and foot injuries have severely hurt his chances of a World Cup spot.
Just 22-years-old, Hooper has plenty of time for national team honours and says he's simply focused on regaining fitness and form.
"I ran into Eddie Jones earlier in the year and I was scooting around (on a mobility scooter) ... he obviously wasn't picking me for anything and he didn't even know my name," he said.
"He said he was impressed with last year and it's going show a lot of character depending on how I come back.
"I'm definitely not putting my name in any squads ... realistically my goal this year is just to play ... really, really well for the Brumbies."