Two things stuck out to Marco Caputo as he ran his eye over the Gungahlin Eagles during pre-season.
The Eagles mentor had an electrifying back line with speed to burn, but he was probably a man short in the back-row. So he turned to veteran outside centre Matt Hawke and asked him about the prospect of pulling on the No. 7 jersey at openside flanker.
"As long as I'm in the XV, I don't care where you play me," Hawke said.
So it's there he packed down as the Gungahlin Eagles made a huge statement in the John I Dent Cup with a 57-15 thrashing of the Canberra Royals at Nicholls Enclosed Oval on Saturday.
The Eagles' forward pack established dominance at the scrum and opened the door for their back line to unlock their freakish skill as Issak Fines-Leleiwasa and Corey Toole scored two tries apiece.
"We've got a pretty handy back line and we were short in the back-row. Choc [Caputo] hit me up in the pre-season and said 'what are your thoughts on seven?'," Hawke said.
"I said 'I'll play wherever you put me', and he said 'righto, we'll see how we go'. Never [played in that position] before but it suits my game, running straight and tackling. It suits me down to the ground.
"We'll see how we go. I'm happy there, as long as I'm in the XV. I said that to Marco ... so I'm happy there."
Hawke adds more grunt to an imposing Eagles forward pack which bullied the reigning premiers in a rematch between last year's grand finalists.
"Obviously we had to back that up from last week, it wasn't a great second half when Westies got the wood on us," Hawke said.
"We had two yellow cards and our scrum went to pieces. We really challenged our scrum this week, we said we've got to aim up and the boys did that."
It in turn allowed the Eagles' backs to shine, with ACT Brumbies scrumhalf Issak Fines-Leleiwasa turning the Royals defence inside out to score two tries.
Fines-Leleiwasa is stuck behind Nic White and Ryan Lonergan in the pecking order for the Super Rugby AU contenders, allowing him to return to clubland for the Eagles alongside Solomone Kata.
"Mate, he has got that much X-factor, I don't understand how he's not getting a crack but they've got a few good halfbacks there at the Brums," Hawke said.
"He's something special. I love having him here because he fits right in and he loves being around the Eagles boys. Every time he is here, it's like he's playing for his own club."
Uni-Norths held off fast-finishing Queanbeyan to win 45-33, while Wests pipped Tuggeranong 32-26.
AT A GLANCE
John I Dent Cup round two: GUNGAHLIN EAGLES57 (Corey Toole 2, Isaak Fines-Leliwasa 2, Jamie Kotz, Kalaveti Kuntuba, Dominic Tevao, Connor Jones, penalty tries; Joey Caputo 5 conversions) bt CANBERRA ROYALS 15 (Ethan Rokoura, Connor Smith tries; N/A conversion; N/A penalty) at Nicholls Enclosed Oval.
UNI-NORTHS OWLS 45 (Siave Seti 2, Jordan Thompson, Willoughby Axelsen, Stuart Sellar, Joshua Reis, Samuel Thomas tries; Thompson 5 conversions) bt QUEANBEYAN WHITES 33 (Jackson Stuart, Junior Tupou, Brendan Jimenez, Ben Gordon tries; Liam Richman 3 conversions) at Campese Field.
WESTS LIONS32 (Alfred Tonga, Matthew Toward, Liar Tuilagi, penalty tries; Declan Meredith 2 conversions; Meredith 2 penalties) bt TUGGERANONG VIKINGS 26 (Seamus Smith 2, Nigel Ah Wong, Andrew Robinson tries; Josia Lealiifano 3 conversions)at Jamison Oval.