Tom Ross remembers all the mornings he spent trying to settle the nerves.
The excitement would start to build throughout the day. Whether his beloved ACT Brumbies they were playing the NSW Waratahs or the Canterbury Crusaders, the ritual was always the same.
Dad Damian would chuck him in the car, they'd park up at CIT and head towards Canberra Stadium to see the likes of Matt Giteau, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, and George Smith.
"It was spectacular," the now-Brumbies prop said.
"I just hope kids and families these days get that same vibe when we run out onto [Canberra] Stadium."
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Now the Daramalan College product is one of three ACT juniors set to bolster the Brumbies' front-row stocks from the bench in a clash with NSW at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
Ross joins Harry Lloyd and Lachlan Lonergan on the pine, with captain Allan Alaalatoa, James Slipper and Connal McInerney to set the tone from kick-off.
The buzz around Tah week is not lost on Ross - it's ingrained in him. After all, "there was a point there when I'd played seven Super Rugby games and four of them were against the Waratahs, so I feel pretty comfortable coming up against the blue jersey".
Perhaps just as important for Brumbies coach Dan McKellar, is this 22-year-old tighthead has found his voice.
"He is that quiet-natured person, especially when he first started," Alaalatoa said. Even he remembers the times he was "a little young fella" listening to Ben Alexander chirp in Tah week.
"He's been here for a few years, the boys respect him when he speaks at training. That's something he has grown in.
"He is really confident in his voice, he is more understanding that the boys receive his messages well because they respect him as a player.
"No matter what he says, he is someone that always backs it up with actions."
Spend a couple of minutes with the youngster they call "Trossy" and you get the sense he is a pretty reserved character, "not one to step up and bark orders or anything like that."
"But I feel like there are times when I can use my words sparingly and speak up, and I feel comfortable that within this group we can speak up and be one as a team," Ross said.
"Over the pre-season all the Wallaby boys were away on duty. It was time for me and guys like Lloydy to step up during the pre-season and really get the plays under our belt and become more mature as players.
"Now we've got the opportunity to really make our mark."
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND TWO
Saturday: ACT Brumbies v NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm. Broadcast: Live on Gem and Stan Sport. Tickets from Ticketek.
ACT Brumbies squad: 1. James Slipper, 2. Connal McInerney, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Jahrome Brown, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Nic White, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Mack Hansen, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Andy Muirhead, 15. Tom Banks. Replacements: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Harry Lloyd, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Nick Frost, 20. Tom Cusack, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Reesjan Pasitoa, 23. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa.
NSW Waratahs squad: 1. Angus Bell, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Sam Caird, 5. Jack Whetton, 6. Lachlan Swinton, 7. Carlo Tizzano, 8. Jack Dempsey, 9. Jack Grant, 10. Will Harrison, 11. James Ramm, 12. Tepai Moeroa, 13. Alex Newsome (c), 14. Mark Nawaqanitawase, 15. Jack Maddocks. Replacements: 16. David Poreki, 17. Te Tera Faulkner, 18. Sio Tatola, 19. Jeremy Williams, 20. Hugh Sinclair, 21. Henry Robertson, 22. Tane Edmed, 23. Triston Reilly.
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