Ollie McCrea, the Illawarra's latest Junior Wallaby, has set his sights on becoming a future Wallaby.
But the talented teenager's immediate goal is to represent Australia at the Under-20 World Championships in South Africa.
The Wallabies face Fiji, Ireland and England in the pool stage of the championship, which kicks off on Saturday, June 24.
McCrea, who spoke to the Mercury before flying out with the rest of the Junior Wallabies squad, said he couldn't wait for the prestigious tournament to start.
"It has always been a dream of mine to play for my country and this has definitely been a dream come true. It means a lot to be able to go out there and play for where I come from," the 18-year-old said.
"When we played in New Zealand that was so surreal, being able to sing the anthem was a real highlight for me. It also is a strong motivator for me, showing that I can reach my goal. But it is still not going to get in the way of my dream of becoming a Wallaby."
But first thing's first, McCrea is looking forward to testing himself in South Africa.
"I'm looking forward to playing really competitive footy against some very strong sides but also just being able to represent the jersey and country again is just a really strong motivator for me,'' he said. ''And I'm looking forward to seeing a new country, it's on the complete other side of the globe, so it'll be a great time."
McCrea, who played the majority of his junior rugby with the Tech-Waratahs and also enjoyed stints with fellow Illawarra sides Kiama, Shamrocks and Uni, said the success he was enjoying now was all down to hard work.
"As cliched as it may sound, my dad and mum used to always say to me 'hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard','' he said.
"It took a long time for me to get to the place I am at right now, a lot of rejection and questioning whether I could get here but it just got to the stage where I went out there to prove them wrong and make them think about the mistake selectors made.
"My time in Illawarra rugby was also invaluable.
"It was a real community whichever club I went and played for, which made me really enjoy playing rugby and when you enjoy it you'll play better footy.
"So when I was really enjoying it in Year 10, I was playing good enough footy to be lucky enough to end up at The Scots College in Sydney.
"That's where I got bigger and probably developed more in my older years but Illawarra rugby was where I found my passion and love for the game."
The powerful lock, who plays his club rugby with Eastern Suburbs in the Sydney competition, said a number of people had helped him achieve his Junior Wallabies dream.
"It goes without saying I couldn't have done it without mum and dad. As they were both rugby players they knew when to push me and be blunt and when to sort of be more supportive," McCrea said.
"They also drove me all over the state for tournaments and trials, which I'm extremely thankful for.
"Rob Heritage is another person who played a big role. Rob, who is from Wollongong and works at Scots, first spotted me and really helped me get to Scots. He was also a really good mentor and teacher when I was there."
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