Back-row Adam Korczyk's knee injury ended his season prematurely but it may have a positive outcome for the rookie Wallabies squad member.
Korczyk’s strength and aggression has caught Wallabies coach Michael Cheika’s eyes, but it’s not something he naturally possessed.
Playing soccer growing up, Korczyk picked up rugby in primary school in New Zealand but feels he owes the Australian pathway more than his early Kiwi days, after moving across when he was 12 and attending Queensland rugby nursery, Brisbane State High School.
Since then, he has risen through the ranks, among the tallest in any team he played, but not necessarily carrying the bulk to go with it.
Even when he made his 2015 Super Rugby debut, the 22-year-old said he felt a bit underweight, but a knee reconstruction had almost been a handy interruption for his build, before a full 2017 Super Rugby season.
“I wasn't the biggest bloke, I was probably just tall when I was playing junior rugby but I think the last year with the knee injury, I had time to actually hit the gym a bit more and get my body prepared,” Korczyk told the Australian Rugby Union's official website.
“When I made my actual debut in 2015 I wasn't too good, I was probably a bit skinny and that but with the year under my belt that's probably enhanced it a bit more.
It’s his aggression that has caught Michael Cheika’s eye, propelling him from his first Super Rugby season into a mid-season Wallabies camp and then into the fully-blown Rugby Championship squad.
“He told me he's enjoyed my physicality,” said Cheika.
“I think that's a big thing with Cheik, he enjoys the physical play and being a lineout jumping backrower probably helps as well, so more options in the lineout and probably the main thing is probably that physicality.”
The Reds stalwart will have a chance to properly test that this week as the Wallabies move into more rugby-based training, as opposed to their conditioning week in Newcastle a fortnight ago.
Korczyk is well in the mix for the opening Bledisloe, with June debutants Ned Hanigan and Jack Dempsey Cheika’s other six options and Lopeti Timani and Sean McMahon potentially in competition for the number eight spot.
He said his first point of call would be focusing on mastering the new calls and picking the brains of his backrow counterparts, before he let himself be carried away with the thought of a Wallabies debut.
"Hoops (Michael Hooper) is an incredible leader and…just how he talks to the group, he's obviously calm, calm chat but important chat as well just to get everyone on the same page,” he said.
“The next coming week I'll be trying to get as much as I can from Hoops and that.
“The main thing for me is get this knowledge down and then just play footy after that."
The Wallabies’ 34-man Bledisloe Cup squad is in camp in Cessnock this week, before heading to Penrith for the Bledisloe lead-up.