Rob Valetini has signed a two-year contract extension with the ACT Brumbies and believes he is only scratching the surface of his potential on the road to the 2023 World Cup.
The Canberra Times can reveal Valetini has signed a two-year extension with the Super Rugby AU finalists and Rugby Australia which takes him through to the end of the World Cup cycle.
Valetini's signature looms as a boost for the Brumbies leading into the competition decider against the Queensland Reds at Lang Park on Saturday night.
The 22-year-old back-rower has emerged as one of the competition's most devastating ball-runners this season after Brumbies mentor Dan McKellar and Wallabies coach Dave Rennie demanded he lift his work rate and training standards.
Now Rennie is relishing the prospect of having a vastly-improved Valetini lining up for the Wallabies in their looming Test series against France.
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"From an Australian rugby point of view it's incredibly pleasing to re-sign a player of Rob's potential," Rennie said.
"We saw really big shifts from Rob in the last weeks of our campaign in 2020 and to his credit he's worked incredibly hard in the off season and has been a stand out performer for the Brumbies week in, week out.
"His impact on the game, with or without the ball is impressive and that's exciting for the Wallabies moving forward."
Valetini leads Super Rugby AU for ball carries by a forward and has outlined his desire to lead by action against the highly-fancied Reds to help the Brumbies to back-to-back titles.
"The coaching and staff here have really helped in my development as a player and also as a person and I feel I've got a lot of improvement left in me," Valetini said.
"The club and Rugby Australia have showed a lot of faith in me and I look forward to repaying that."
Valetini is primed to play a key role for the Brumbies this week either at his flanker or No. 8 should he have to cover for the injured Pete Samu.
It looms as a huge chance for the versatile Melbourne-born product to stake his claim for a Wallabies jersey following the looming Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament.
"Rob's development as a player is clear for all to see and his growth away from the field as a person is also really impressive," McKellar said.
"He's really matured as a member of the squad and is becoming a leader within the group which has helped translate to more consistent performances on the field.
"He's become one of the best trainers in the group and is understanding what it takes to be a professional footballer day in day out."
SUPER RUGBY AU FINAL
Saturday: Queensland Reds v ACT Brumbies at Lang Park, 7.45pm. Broadcast: Live on Stan Sport and 9Gem. Tickets from Ticketek.
*The Brumbies are offering a package for fans including a charter flight to and from Brisbane, a ticket to the final, and one night's accommodation. Secure your seat here.
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