Australia: Mark Nawaqanitawase excited to work with Wallabies defence coach Brett Hodgson
Waratahs flyer Mark Nawaqanitawase is looking forward to working with new Wallabies defensive coach Brett Hodgson and is keen to cement his place in Australia’s squad with strong performances at Super Rugby Pacific level.
Nawaqanitawase grew up watching Hodgson during his career as a player for Wests Tigers in the NRL and the duo caught up with each other at the Waratahs’ headquarters in Daceyville, Sydney on Tuesday.
Enjoyed watching him
“I was just telling him how crazy it is I used to watch him back in the day,” the 22-year-old flyer told Rugby Australia’s official website when asked about the meeting.
“I grew up watching the (Wests) Tigers, so I’d head down to Leichhardt to watch him play so it’s pretty funny.
“It was just a friendly chat… They bring a new feel so they’re learning us, and we’re learning them so it’s nice to connect.”
Nawaqanitawase‘s career has hit an upward trajectory over the past 12 months as he has cemented himself in both the Waratahs and Wallabies‘ matchday squads.
He was one of Australia’s star performers during their 2022 end-of-year to Europe but despite his excellent form, the 22-year-old is not getting carried away by his success.
“I think if you think that way, it gets to your head,” he said when asked about feeling like a Wallaby.
“I just want to do my own thing and focus on going out each week and playing my game.
“When you start a new season or game, you have to build into the game and it helps when the team is doing well in that second half. We were able to move the ball well and I felt comfortable out there.”
After starting their Super Rugby Pacific campaign with a loss to the Brumbies, the Waratahs bounced back with an impressive victory over the Fijian Drua in the tournament’s Super Round in Melbourne at the weekend.
Nawaqanitawase admitted that the Sydneysiders did not deal well with that opening defeat but said the mood has changed in their camp after they notched their first win and that they are taking it one game at a time.
Plenty of hype
“There was a lot of hype and build around (the first game) but each week is different and we had to move on,” he added.
“If you keep holding on, it’ll play at your mind and you won’t be able to play the footy you want to. For us, it’s about focusing on the next job and what we can do.
“I think definitely (the experience will make us better), not to build ourselves up too much and stay level-headed. If you control and do what we plan to do, we can be a force against those top teams.”
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