How NRL's Manly helped make Wallabies fullback Wright
Australia's leading contender to wear the No.15 jersey at the Rugby World Cup later this year might have the potential to be the "world's best fullback", but still credits his three-year stint with the Manly Sea Eagles for making him the player he is.
Brumbies and Wallabies star Tom Wright, who's penned an extension with both organisations until the end of 2025, says he literally grew up rubbing shoulders with Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic on a deal he signed while still at high school.
He left the NRL system in 2019 and wasted no time making an impact back in rugby, winning his first national team cap a year later and recently making a flawless shift from wing to fullback.
Wright will have to beat a stacked field including Andrew Kellaway, Jordan Petaia and Tom Banks for the No.15 jersey, but Wallabies coach Eddie Jones perhaps tipped his hand on Friday declaring he "has the ability to the the world's best fullback".
"That's the challenge for him, how much more can he find?"Jones asked.
Wright, who admitted that was among his goals, paid tribute to his time with the Sea Eagles as influential in his grounding, having caught up with a number of their players when they faced Canberra last weekend.
"I was extremely, extremely grateful and extremely lucky to have got a contract while still at school, and then literally walk out the gates and straight into an NRL pre-season," he said.
"I didn't realise I was learning at the time some of the fundamentals of becoming a man pretty quickly, how to carry yourself and all that sort of stuff.
"Guys like Daly Cherry-Evans, Jake Trbojevic, even Tom (Trbojevic) who was obviously young as, but he'd been in those shoes for a few years longer than I had.
"Even guys like Nate Myles ... some of those really hard-edged older dudes teaching small little bits and pieces along the way about professionalism. ... I had no idea I was learning at the time but I was soaking up heaps."
Wright said his "genuine love" for the Brumbies after they'd taken a risk on him coming back to rugby helped his decision to stick around for another two years.
They've also helped his switch to fullback, giving him first crack at replacing Banks after he moved to Japanese rugby last off-season.
"I'd be selling myself short if I didn't want to be (the world's best fullback)," Wright said.
"I don't come in here every day to just get by, and signing on for two more years, I've got a little bit of time to keep working towards that goal.
"Obviously we've got that big dance at the end of this year everyone keeps talking about over in France, but we've got a big five weeks coming up.
"The only way I'm gonna get to that goal is to play good football for the Brumbies and then do it for the Wallabies off the back of that."