The NSW Waratahs have been hit hard with injuries during their 2021 Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU campaign, losing players across the park in vital positions - from captain Jake Gordon, to up and coming youngsters, off season signings to crucial veterans, it’s been a horror year.
There has been one silver lining with a lot of promising youngsters who have progressed through the Shute Shield getting their moment in the starting side, with Max Douglas quickly becoming a rising star in the second row.
The abrasive Manly Marlins lock got his chance in Round 6 against the Reds, coming off the bench early in the first half when the Waratahs lost both Sam Wykes and Sam Caird to injuries.
Douglas would go on to play 60 minutes in his Super Rugby debut and hasn’t looked back since, starting in the Waratahs past two matches against the Brumbies and the Force.
Marly Marlins 1st Grade head coach Matt McGoldrick wasn’t surprised at how quickly Max Douglas has adjusted to Super Rugby.
“I expected Max to adjust to the demands of Super Rugby straight away,” McGoldrick said.
“He was the best player in our Manly side last year when he made the jump from colts straight into first grade and won our best and fairest award in 2020.
“So, it’s no surprise to me that he’s slotted seamlessly into that Waratahs pack, he’s that good.”
The young lock is loving his time in Super Rugby AU and was quick to point out the differences between club footy and Super Rugby
“I’m really enjoying it, it’s a good step up coming from club footy last year and after having a good pre-season I feel like I’ve prepared well enough and am enjoying it,” Douglas said.
“The execution is probably the thing I have noticed the most. Against the Reds in my debut, any sort of slip up and any areas you haven’t got covered, they’ll expose you.
“We got found out in some areas there, so it’s being conscious of that now and getting more of a feel for it has been good. It is a step up, but you just have to be on to it”
The Waratahs face the Rebels this Saturday in their final match of Super Rugby AU with their ANZAC Round clash at Bankwest stadium, but with a Trans-Tasman competition looming Douglas is hoping to cement his role in the starting side.
“It’s been a good opportunity for me, obviously it was unfortunate to lose Say Wykes to injury, but that’s footy,” Douglas said.
“I’m just trying to put my best foot forward for the team and hopefully if I can keep putting in good performances, I can hold my spot for the Trans-Tasman competition”.