Chris F'Sautia came to the Queensland Reds with the chassis of a Ferrari but the mechanical reliability of a car-yard clunker. The raw potential was sublime but his body wasn't always willing to get him off the start line.
Now the teenager has been re-engineered in a bid to rejuvenate his troublesome hamstrings, with the Reds throwing him into the deep end against the Waratahs on Saturday night.
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Can the Tahs pip the mighty Reds?
If the Waratahs win this weekend, the Reds will need to take a good, long look at themselves and all their myth-building.
After showing his tackle-busting ability in Queensland's first-round loss to the Brumbies, the 19-year-old has been given a shot in the centres for the Reds, where he will line up opposite Tahs veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper.
Just getting F'Sautia into a position to be able to start a game has been an effort for Queensland Rugby, given his running style had to be built from the ground up after constant hamstring issues, which went back to his schoolboy days, kept him from the ground for much of last season.
Given the size of his legs, it's not a surprise F'Sautia, who has Samoan heritage, has taken some time to adjust to his rapidly expanding physique. Reds coach Ewen McKenzie now believes F'Sautia is fine-tuned enough to be let loose in the backline for longer stretches.
“I don't think it's any secret we've got a bit of time for him as a player. He came out of schoolboy football with hamstring issues, we've been working on that. It's a good opportunity for him to start,” McKenzie said.
“He's a very talented player. He's pretty good at most parts of the game – attack, defence, high ball. He's a big unit.”
Much like Justin Hodges at the Broncos, another player who battled with flawed running mechanics as a youngster, the Reds performance staff has worked diligently to get F'Sautia propelling himself around the park in a manner that doesn't lead to another breakdown.
“We spend a lot of time trying to understand how these guys run, how their back contributes, there's a lot of detail in that. You almost have to re-engineer the running style of these guys sometimes,” McKenzie said.
“Sometimes it's just a matter of guys growing up. You've got to allow someone like Chris time to grow. He's nearly 100kg. He's got massive thighs, he's got hamstrings in there somewhere. You have to make sure everything functions properly.”
F'Sautia has been nicknamed 'Beast Mode' by Reds team-mates, in honour of explosive Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch. Earlier in the week, Quade Cooper told Fairfax Media F'Sautia's exploits in training have stunned the entire squad.
“It was a drill and there was less than five metres of space,” Cooper said. “He broke through three of our best defenders; step, bump, bump, fend, then jumped over one of them.
“We were like, 'Did that just happen?' Then he did it again for a second time.”
In other changes for the Reds, Ed O'Donoghue replaces Adam Wallace-Harrison in the second row as McKenzie opts for extra bulk in the face of a hulking Waratahs forward pack, while Aidan Toua is the man replaced in the number 13 jersey.
Reds: Mike Harris, Dom Shipperley, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Ben Tapuai, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Ben Lucas, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Eddie Quirk, Rob Simmons, Ed O'Donoghue, James Slipper (captain), Saia Faingaa, Greg Holmes. Reserves: James Hanson, Albert Anae, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Jarrad Butler, Nick Frisby, Jono Lance, Luke Morahan.