ACT Brumbies junior Rob Valetini hopes the under-20s world championship can help launch his Super Rugby career as he fights to prove he has beaten an injury curse.
Australian under-20s coach Simon Cron has put faith in the hard-hitting back-rower to make an impact on the world stage despite being limited to just handful of minutes on the field this year.
Valetini is set to play against a Brumbies Griffins side at Viking Park on Wednesday night in the Australian team's final practice match before the world championships in Georgia.
Valetini broke his thumb in the first game of the Brumbies' under-20s campaign and then injured his ankle at training on Saturday ahead of his comeback.
But the 18-year-old says he's ready to make his mark as he chases national honours and a Brumbies debut.
"It's been tough but I'm just glad the Australian coaches had faith in me to get the job done despite missing most of the under-20s tournament," Valetini said.
"I was really disappointed to get injured because I had my eyes on [the Brumbies game] against the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne to make my debut.
"I've still got my eyes on that debut this year but I know I've got to keep training and hopefully it comes.
"If I can play well in the under-20s then that will help as well so I'm just focused on that right now."
Valetini admits he faces a tough challenge just to break into the under-20s starting XV, with talented back-rowers Liam Wright, Reece Hewat and Angus Scott-Young staking their claim for selection.
But Cron will be using the final hit out against a team of Canberra's best club rugby players to test new combinations and Valetini wants to bang down the selection door.
The Melbourne-raised teenager is rated as one of the hardest-hitting players at the Brumbies despite his limited experience.
He signed a full-time contract with the Brumbies as a schoolboy and it is set to extend his stay in Canberra.
"Being with the Brumbies has helped me read the game better," Valetini said.
"In an amateur environment it used to be just about catching the ball and running. Now there's a lot more detail to the game and where you have to be.
"I'm still trying to prove myself because of injuries. I'm still trying to show people what I can do so hopefully the injuries are behind me.
"We've got a lot of experience in the under-20s so there's a good buzz and hopefully we can win some big games at the world championships."
UNDER-20s PRACTICE MATCH
Wednesday: Australian under-20s v Brumbies Griffins at Viking Park, 7pm.