ACT Brumbies prop Allan Alaalatoa has one eye on the 2019 World Cup after securing a new deal in Canberra and launching himself on to the Wallabies radar.
In a major boost ahead of a huge rivalry battle with the NSW Waratahs, rising front-rower Alaalatoa has committed to the Brumbies on a three-year contract extension.
The deal was sweetened by the ARU coming to the party and identifying Alaalatoa as a future Wallaby with a top-up in the final year of the agreement, backing him to make the leap to Test rugby.
But former Australian under-20s beast Alaalatoa is simply preparing for his battle for game time as the Brumbies test their front-row depth against the Waratahs on Friday night.
The Waratahs were dealt a blow on Tuesday when former Test prop Benn Robinson was ruled out of the contest due to concussion.
In contrast, the Brumbies' big men are locked in competition for spots, with Scott Sio putting pressure on Alaalatoa at loosehead, Leulualialii-Makin is pushing Ben Alexander to be the tighthead and Ruan Smith and Albert Anae are waiting for a chance.
News of Alaalatoa's new contract comes as the Brumbies continue negotiations with David Pocock and Sio as coach Stephen Larkham attempts to keep his squad together.
The Brumbies started the Super Rugby season with a bang, thrashing the Wellington Hurricanes 52-10 to kickstart their year in the best possible way.
But the Waratahs loom as a step up in a duel for Australian supremacy, and Alaalatoa says loyalty was the major factor in his decision to stay with the Brumbies rather than return to Sydney.
"I've always wanted to stay at the same club and be loyal to the boys, especially because the Brumbies gave me my first chance in Super Rugby," Alaalatoa said.
"It's exciting for me to re-sign. To be able to say that I've signed until the end of 2019 is fantastic, I've enjoyed my time here and I'm looking forward to what the future holds.
"What made me stay here was the culture and the boys here, I didn't want to lose those relationships. It was an easy decision to stay."
The Brumbies have already sold more than 10,000 tickets for the Waratahs battle, with the club to donate $20,000 to the Domestic Violence Crisis Service if they get a crowd of 20,000 at the game.
Alaalatoa was thrust into the Brumbies' starting pack to start the Super Rugby season last week and is fighting to keep his place for the clash against the Waratahs.
Sio has recovered from knee and elbow problems picked up during the World Cup campaign and is trying to force his way into the starting rotation.
The Brumbies took a punt on an untested Alaalatoa three years ago to offer him an extended player squad deal in Canberra.
Now he says it's time to repay the faith, deciding not to seriously pursue offers elsewhere to focus on a future as a Brumby.
"The depth we've got in the props is the best we've had in years," Alaalatoa said. "The coaches know they can trust anyone to start, and that's a good situation to be in."
The Waratahs have won five of the past six matches between the teams, including a semi-final and pre-season clash, and have the edge on the Canberra-based team.
The Brumbies worked with the ARU and Alaalatoa to come up with a suitable deal. It is hoped Pocock's future will be finalised soon as he weighs up a potential 12-month sabbatical while Sio is also in talks with the club.
Alaalatoa's father, Vili, and Sio's father played for Samoa at the 1992 World Cup.
Alaalatoa hopes to follow in his footsteps in 2019, and the ARU's willingness to sign him on a future deal is an indication of his Wallabies potential.
"I think everyone in Australia has the goal of aiming for that 2019 World Cup squad and that's something in my mind," Alaalatoa said.
"But to achieve that you've got to continue to perform. For me to get closer, I have to do the best I can in every game and every year for the Brumbies leading up to that.
"It was a bit of an eye-opener with the ARU deal and I feel blessed to have that contract. First and foremost I have to deal with what's in front of me before looking at 2019."
SUPER RUGBY ROUND TWO
Friday: ACT Brumbies v NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.
* Lifeline will auction a corporate box to the Brumbies-Waratahs match this week, offering $500 of catering, a signed jersey and Lifeline board member Stephen Moore to attend a board room lunch with the winning bidder. Details at www.allbids.com.au/lifeline.
* Brumbies trio Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani and co-captain Stephen Moore will auction their jerseys from the round-one win, with money raised going to Fiji to help the clean-up after cyclone Winston. All details are at www.allbids.com.au/brumbies