Rocky road to the top worth the wait for Brumbies' Mogg
Brumbies' Jesse Mogg during the Captain's Run at Canberra Stadium on Friday. Photo: Graham Tidy
Mid-way through last year newly installed Brumbies head coach Jake White made it known to his colleagues he wanted a left-foot kicker in the squad.
At the same time a rangy, dirty-blond Queenslander, who had spent 18 months languishing in the Brumbies Academy without attracting the attention of anyone who mattered, was about to pull the pin on his four-year bid to make it in professional sport.
That 22-year-old was Jesse Mogg, the same young man who chipped a ball off his left foot and sprinted 75 metres to regather it with his right hand and score a stunning individual try against the Sharks five weeks ago.
It is the same young man who is currently White's first-choice fullback and is emblematic of the Brumbies' rise from the ashes of last season's embarassing off-field implosion.
Yet this time last year Mogg was about to throw in the towel, finish his teaching degree and go back to club rugby in Brisbane.
It wasn't an impetuous decision, he just figured the writing was on the wall. He had played with Queensland A in 2008 and managed a season of league with the Brisbane Broncos Toyota Cup side, but neither stint ended with a full-time contract.
It looked like his Canberra experiment was going the same way. That was until White arrived, with fresh eyes and a checklist that included a solid left boot.
''Had Jake not come to the Brumbies I definitely wouldn't be playing Super 15 this year,'' Mogg said.
It was Stephen Larkham, White's backs coach and former Wallabies flyhalf, that nominated Mogg to his new boss. Larkham had been watching Mogg for a while at his old club Wests and knew, despite Mogg's tall and lean build, that the young man had some x-factor.
He took White along to a Wests game and the South African coach picked up the phone the next Monday, inviting Mogg to the Brumbies' first pre-season camp in Narrabeen on Sydney's northern beaches in August.
The clincher for the Brumbies was a letter White sent out to every team in Canberra's club competition after its conclusion in September. Asked to nominate a first XV from across the tournament, Mogg's was the only name that rose above the parochialism of club rugby to make it on to every coach's list.
The Brumbies offered him a one-year contract to join their extended playing squad and an opportunity to join the core squad came about this season through injuries to Pat McCabe, Coleman and Matt Toomua. This week the Brumbies signed Mogg to a further season in the capital.
After putting on four kilograms since the start of the pre-season - Mogg now clocks in at 90kg - his height provides an ongoing challenge at the breakdown, where a stockier player with a lower centre of gravity has the physical advantage. And the very attribute that sold White on Mogg - his left boot - has not been his strength this season.
But there has probably never been a player happier to have work to do on his game. He has a contract, two world-class mentors and a starting spot on the most exciting Australian team this season. And finally, after four years of chasing the dream, Mogg has timing.