Mac Grealy has taken the best bits of Kalyn Ponga’s game and is seen as the next Tim Horan at the Queensland Reds.
But after shunning the NRL and earning a maiden Reds contract the exciting fullback or winger is expected to handle the hype when he inevitably makes his Super Rugby debut.
The 18-year-old from Toowoomba boasts incredible footwork and an on-field presence that has former Wallabies lock and Grealy’s long-time coach Garrick Morgan excited.
“He was one of the easiest guys to coach and is a great leader too,” Morgan told Channel Nine.
“It’s massive; he’s got all the X-factor that you need.
“I haven’t coached anyone like him before and the only qualities that similar are Tim Horan, so I compare him much to him.”
Grealy has cherry-picked bits and pieces from athletes across both codes but says Newcastle Knights and Queensland Maroons No.1 Ponga has always been a favourite.
“I love to attack, if I can take someone on I will,” the teenager said.
“I like to pick and choose from a few (players) but back when I was a younger kid Kalyn Ponga was pretty big.
“I like to bring a bit of that into my game and a few tricks from other players and make that into one.”
The teenager has some traffic ahead of him to earn a Reds debut, with Jock Campbell starring at fullback last season and NRL recruit Suliasi Vunivalu joining Wallaby Filipo Daugunu in a deadly strike wing combination.
They’re part of a Reds squad loaded with Wallabies that is expect to push for Super Rugby AU and trans-Tasman silverware this season.
Coach Brad Thorn hasn’t been shy in rewarding young talent though, with Josh Flook and Zane Nonggorrbut already debuting last year before earning their first contract, alongside Kalani Thomas, Ilaisa Droasese and Grealy on Friday.
Morgan has no doubt Grearly can handle the level and the hype when he does earn a debut.
“Australia has learnt a lot of lessons throwing people into the deep end early,” he said.
“But he’s intelligent, a leader and thrives under pressure, just loves it.
“When the chips are down he’ll lift a team and score the try.”