Brumbies trio say juniors can be a 'catalyst for change'

Can a group of teenagers and 20-year-olds break the rugby union shackles and put the Wallabies on a path to beating the All Blacks? The Australian under-20s side certainly hopes so.

The group of junior Wallabies will reconvene in Sydney this weekend for a training camp before flying to Argentina for the under-20s World Cup, which starts on June 4.

Junior Brumbies Lachlan Lonergan, left, Noah Lolesio, and Nick Frost have been picked to play for the Australian under-20s at the world championships next month. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Junior Brumbies Lachlan Lonergan, left, Noah Lolesio, and Nick Frost have been picked to play for the Australian under-20s at the world championships next month. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The players are still riding high after beating New Zealand 24-0 earlier this month, shocking almost everyone given Australian Super Rugby sides lost 40 games in a row against Kiwi opponents before the drought was broken last year.

Former ACT Brumbies prop and Australian under-20s assistant coach Ruaidhri Murphy said the junior players wanted to be the ones to turn the tide at the international level.

"When we met and did some culture work at Mt Kosciuszko ... the group identified that if they could have one thing, they would like to be the ones who are the catalyst for change," Murphy said.

"One Test won't do that, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. The pleasing thing is they believe they can win and we're not going to take that away from them. We'll keep empowering them."

The junior Wallabies gave Australian rugby some much needed good news as the code deals with the fallout of Israel Folau's sacking on Friday.

Winning the under-20s World Cup won't be enough to bury the Folau situation, but it will at least show there's some light at the end of the tunnel.

Queensland Reds flyer Isaac Lucas was stuck in a tug-of-war between club and country this week. The Reds wanted him to play Super Rugby, but Queensland coaches had agreed to make the under-20s a priority before the start of the season so Lucas will instead join the junior Wallabies camp on Saturday.

It was an indication Rugby Australia are taking the development pathway seriously, despite missing another chance to play against men at the top professional level.

Brumbies playmaker Noah Lolesio is also giving up his immediate Super Rugby ambitions to pursue international glory. Lolesio is one of three Brumbies in the squad, joining lock Nick Frost and hooker Lachlan Lonergan.

Highly-rated teen playmaker Lolesio has signed a three-year deal with the Brumbies, but coaches have told him to focus on under-20s duties before making the leap to Super Rugby.

Lolesio says the junior Wallabies, particularly the inside backs, have benefited by having World Cup-winning flyhalf Stephen Larkham involved at the camps.

"He's full of knowledge, you want to pick his brain apart the entire time. He's been really good for me, critiquing my game. And having someone like that gives us huge confidence," Lolesio said.

"The motto every year is that every under-20s side wants to be the one that wins it. We're really driven this year and we'll carry that momentum forward to the World Cup."

Second-rower Frost has also signed a deal with the Brumbies for next season after a stint in New Zealand in the Canterbury Crusaders' development system.

"I want to get the respect of all the boys [in the under-20s] first," Frost said.

"I learnt a lot [at the Crusaders] ... just skill wise, how to play the game and how enjoyable [running rugby] is.

"It was [a bit daunting], I didn't know [anyone] when I landed. Ultimately I looked at the long term. By seeing their culture and how they wanted to play for the All Blacks, I realised I wanted to play for the Wallabies."

JUNIOR WORLD CUP

June 4: Australia v Italy at 11.30pm

June 9: Australia v Ireland at 4.30am

June 13: Australia v England at 4.30am