Barely a year into his professional Super Rugby career and Bryce Hegarty is already being earmarked as one of the key factors to a successful Rebels seasons.
Hegarty, 21, is expected to start at flyhalf for Melbourne in 2014 after the departures of Wallabies James O'Connor, Kurtley Beale and Richard Kingi, as well as James Hilgendorf during the off-season – some big shoes to fill for the young man.
Hegarty was recruited from the Brisbane Broncos U-20 NRL squad before the beginning of the 2013 season, and ended up appearing in five Super Rugby games -- making his debut against the Blues -- as well as starting alongside Luke Burgess in the halves in the British & Irish Lions tour game. He finished in third position in the clubs kicking rankings at the conclusion of the year, with 34 kicks to his name at an average of 6.8 a game, a higher average than any other Rebel – perhaps an indicator of how and why his confident kicking game caught the attention of AFL scouts in the past.
Touted as one of the most gifted talents in the Rebels squad, Hegarty’s partnership with Luke Burgess in the middle of the park will be one of the many crucial aspects of the Rebels team that coach Tony McGahan will want to get right this season. Burgess, a Wallaby and seasoned veteran, will surely have words of wisdom to speak to Hegarty on how to forge a strong partnership, and Hegarty needs to have a strong season for his sake, with fellow youngster Angus Roberts breathing down his neck if he was to slip up.
Hegarty is one of the most highly anticipated young players to watch, not just in the Melbourne Rebels team, but in the whole Super Rugby competition in 2014. How well do you think the winner of the Rebels Rising Player of the Year award can handle the pressure?