Lachlan Lonergan wondered if he wanted to play on.
The Canberra junior had just been drafted into the ACT Brumbies program straight out of school but a troublesome shoulder threatened to derail his Super Rugby dream.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar wondered if the emerging prospect would stick with it. He knew the kid had talent, he just wanted Lonergan to see it too.
Now the Brumbies' back-up hooker is set to join a Wallabies camp this weekend - but not before facing the Queensland Reds in a top of the table clash in Brisbane on Saturday night.
"That's the best part about coaching, seeing guys develop as players and as men. I remember Lachie when he first came out of school and was in our program," McKellar said.
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"He had some issues with his shoulder there for a little while and he ummed and ahhed around whether playing on was what he wanted to do.
"He stuck at it, worked hard, and got a taste of professional rugby. He now understands he well and truly belongs at this level and he has got a bright future ahead of him."
So bright that Wallabies coach Dave Rennie will bring him into a camp with the national squad on Sunday.
Rennie and Lonergan first crossed paths last month when the Wallabies mentor spent a week at Brumbies headquarters.
"There was literally nothing to it," Lonergan said.
"I introduced myself, he introduced himself, but it was just a casual chat and he was getting to know everyone."
Then everything changed. Little more than a week later Lonergan was named in Rennie's 40-man squad.
The Wallabies coach sees "immediate potential" in the 21-year-old, adamant he could push for a Test debut this year rather than simply being a long-term prospect for the 2023 World Cup.
But Lonergan still had no idea Rennie saw so much in him until he finished a training session at the Brumbies' University of Canberra base the day the Wallabies squad was named.
"We just had a little session and a couple of lads came up to me at training congratulating me, and I honestly had no idea what they were congratulating me for," Lonergan said.
"I honestly couldn't tell you what it was, then they said it was for the Wallabies squad, and I still didn't believe them. Then they showed me.
"It's obviously a massive surprise, I wasn't expecting it, but super happy."
Lonergan is one of 14 Brumbies included in the squad and one of four hookers in an entirely new contingent including Alex Mafi, David Porecki, and Feleti Kaitu'u.
His Brumbies teammate Folau Fainga'a was overlooked, as were Jordan Uelese, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, and Tom Horton, though the door remains ajar for them to feature in Tests this year.
Just as it does for Wallabies bolter Lonergan, who will team up with Fainga'a against Reds duo Paenga-Amosa and Mafi this week.
"When you do see them achieve their goals and live out a dream for them and for their family, it's always really special," McKellar said.
"It makes you feel proud."
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND EIGHT
Saturday: Queensland Reds v ACT Brumbies at Lang Park, 7.45pm. Broadcast: Live on Stan Sport and Gem.
ACT Brumbies team: 1. James Slipper, 2. Folau Fainga'a, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Tom Cusack, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Nic White, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Andy Muirhead, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Tom Wright, 15. Tom Banks. Replacements: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Sefo Kautai, 19. Nick Frost, 20. James Tucker, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Bayley Kuenzle, 23. Mack Hansen.
Queensland Reds team: 1. Feao Fotuaika, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Ryan Smith, 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6. Angus Scott-Young, 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. James O'Connor (c), 11. Jock Campbell, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Hunter Paisami, 14. Jordan Petaia, 15. Bryce Hegarty. Replacements: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. Richie Asiata, 18. Zane Nonggorr, 19. Seru Uru, 20. Liam Wright, 21. Kalani Thomas, 22. Josh Flook, 23. Filipo Daugunu.
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