Junior Wallabies coach Jason Gilmore believes a new-found faith in young players at the elite level will yield benefits for Australian rugby.
Gilmore, who coached Australia to second spot in last year's under-20 world championship, has been reunited with several of his star young players after recently joining the NSW Waratahs as a defensive coach.
Many of his 2019 Junior Wallabies performed impressively in Super Rugby before the lockdown, sparking hopes they will be part of a resurgent Wallabies side under new coach Dave Rennie.
"What this current crop has shown is how quickly they have been able to handle and play well in Super Rugby. That's been the most satisfying thing from my perspective," Gilmore said.
Players like five-eighths Noah Lolesio and Will Harrison, and back rowers Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson, were winning rave reviews before the coronavirus-enforced shutdown of the sport.
Gilmore believes the backing of coaches has allowed the youngsters room to thrive, something he expects to continue in the new-look Super Rugby AU competition.
"Because (Super Rugby) teams in Australia (over) the last few years traditionally haven't done so well, everyone is chasing victories really quickly, so the added pressure gets placed on young guys," he said.
"It's almost like they should be judged (as if they are) a 28-year-old veteran.
"'When their performances aren't consistent - as a 19, 20-year-old - you can see some of the guys end up losing their contracts and going overseas.
"The biggest thing this year is that the coaches have backed the guys and left them in their positions and given them confidence."
Gilmore picked out 20-year-old Waratah Will Harrison as proof of the value of a new approach.
Harrison converted two tries and kicked four penalties in a mature performance as the Waratahs lost 32-26 to the Reds in the season restart at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.
"Will Harrison is a classic (example)," Gilmore said.
"Will wouldn't have achieved (the performance he did on Friday) if he didn't have that confidence and belief in the coaching staff behind him."
One of the rising stars of the Australian coaching fraternity, Gilmore hopes one day to be able to make a similar impact as head coach of an Australian Super Rugby side.
"I just want to make sure that I am patient and ticking the boxes at each level that I coach at," he said.
Australian Associated Press