Ben Donaldson started the year battling for the Waratahs’ No.10 jersey, but by July the emerging flyhalf might just be a Wallaby.
The 22-year-old is one of eight uncapped players included in a 40-man squad meeting on the Gold Coast across the next three days as Australia prepares for three home Tests with England in the July international window.
Donaldson is one of the squad’s bolters but earned inclusion with strong form to start the Super Rugby Pacific season, looking assured in the halves while helping the Tahs to a 4-3 record heading to their first bye.
Speaking from the Gold Coast, Donaldson said he was satisfied with how he’d commenced the campaign, but acknowledged plenty of room for improvement.
“It was a bit of a fight there with Harro (Will Harrison) and Tane (Edmed) as well, there’s some good 10s at the Tahs at the moment which is just really good for competition,” he said.
“I’m reasonably happy with my form, bit inconsistent.
“Obviously, there’s a few things – plenty of things – I’m working on that I can do better in games.
“I’m definitely not the complete player yet but one of the main things I’m working on at the moment is just my consistency and especially as a 10, trying to limit some errors.”
Finally getting some consistent playing time this season, Donaldson said he was finding his feet.
“Through injuries last year and then being on the bench prior to that, it’s pretty hard, especially as a 10, to improve as a player when you’re not getting 80 minutes,” he said.
“That’s the main thing, just playing full games.”
Donaldson faces a huge task to make the final squad for the England Tests, with Wallabies flyhalves James O’Connor and Noah Lolesio also in the training squad and the likelihood that Quade Cooper will be called up as one of three possible overseas-based players.
But he’s joined in the squad by a number of fellow under-20 representatives who steered Australia to ithe final of the 2019 world championship, including Lolesio, Lachie Lonergan, Angus Bell, Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson.
That encouraged Donaldson he was on the right track to establishing himself as one of the country’s leading halves.
“It does make you feel at home, there’s a fair few of us here from the 20s, a lot of good fellas and class players who have been in the mix with the Wallabies already,” he said.
“It’s more just exciting for Australian rugby in general, moving forward with a good batch of young boys coming through.
“At the Tahs as well, a lot of boys finding their feet now and a few boys making the move into the squad here.”
Donaldson said he recently resumed running after a calf injury and was expecting to return to the Tahs side after next week’s bye.
The training squad features 15 Brumbies, 10 Waratahs, eight Reds, four Rebels and three players from the Western Force.