Tate’s time to shine at No.9
TATE McDermott was just 12 when he was packed into the family car for the trip to Suncorp Stadium in 2011 to watch Will Genia make history with the Queensland Reds.
He was perched in the packed upper bleachers that night when his young roar joined the tumult as Genia ran 20m, 30m, 40m and finally 65m for his incredible solo try.
The Super Rugby final triumph left a huge impression on the surf-loving youngster from Mudjimba on the Sunshine Coast.
He ogled at what great rugby is supposed to look like...fizzing fans, plenty of Reds caps and jerseys in a home crowd, one-sided support and fast, attacking footy.
Remarkably, McDermott, at just 20, is now the fastest mover in the queue of halfbacks looking to make a mark with the evergreen Genia in World Cup year.
The wet blankets saying McDermott is too young can't want to win the thing because the spark to his play means he must be selected for the first Wallabies camp.
Once there, coach Michael Cheika can judge whether his up-tempo, dart-from-the-ruck style is worth rushing towards one of the two understudy roles for halfbacks at the World Cup.
Jake Gordon, Nic White, Joe Powell and 71-Test veteran Nick Phipps are also in the picture so it's crowded.
Experience? McDermott has little but it hasn't stopped the diminutive 77kg halfback from throwing his weight around by taking on forwards 40kg heavier.
McDermott talks with genuine excitement about the possibilities for the Reds over this next three-game block and that Genia game in 2011.
"I do remember that 2011 final as being quite surreal,' McDermott said.
"Mum and dad took the whole family to the game and we carried on, eh, when Will Genia made that run.
"The crowd erupted. I loved it."
No one is looking beyond Friday night's tricky encounter against Japan's Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium. But they sort of are.
"We've spoken a little about finals but we want to be the team that stops making those promises and actually delivers in this three-week block," McDermott said.
"We know that the Sunwolves are dangerous and can be unreal on their day so we are putting all our resources into this.
"We've got to win this one first of all but it's real important with two more conference games after that against the Rebels (May 10) and Waratahs (May 18).
"You win and you also take a win away from them in conference games so there's a massive opportunity for us."
McDermott is doing extras after training with backs coach Jim McKay, who was in Genia's corner during that dream run through 2011.
"Jim obviously worked with Will and he's really helping me too in nailing little skills around passing, kicking and how not to overplay my hand," McDermott said.
McDermott makes the honest assessment that "I've got a long way to go with my passing" but it is a skill he can sharpen.
You can't find speed and instinctive flair when it's not there.
McDermott has both as a breakout figure of real excitement for World Cup year.