How cricket lost Wallabies’ newest X-factor
IN the absence of Israel Folau, the Wallabies seek an X-factor attacking threat that can conjure miracles to end their 32-year losing streak to the All Blacks in Auckland, and that man will be Jack Maddocks.
But the 21-year-old could have easily been fixing another hole in Australian sport - the top order of the men's cricket team.
Maddocks, a two-time NSW cricketer of the year in his age group and former teammate of Ed Cowan in Sydney University's first grade side, was amused to hear comments by Shane Warne this week regarding the nation's dearth of batting depth.
"I'm loving the path that footy is taking me but I did read an article the other day which was interesting, Shane Warne saying that there's no batting talent coming through, because I was a young batsman five years ago when they were falling out of trees," Maddocks said.
Instead, life took him in a rapid new trajectory when, from the third XV as school in 2015, Maddocks was picked to go on the Wallabies' spring tour at the end of last year.
The rookie winger, who made an impressive Test debut off the bench last week and scored Australia's only try, will now start on the wing at Eden Park, where the Wallabies have not beaten the All Blacks since 1986.
"I've played there once, we won this year with the [Melbourne] Rebels. So what hoodoo?" Maddocks quipped.
The Wallabies will likely push Dane Haylett-Petty to fullback in place of the injured Folau, with Maddocks and Marika Koroibete to form the back three.
Maddocks, who once floated the idea of playing in the Big Bash in between rugby seasons, can barely register how his dreams growing up of playing professional cricket has somehow turned into being Australia's potential saviour in a Bledisloe Test in Auckland.
"No regrets. I'm absolutely loving what I'm doing at the moment, having so much fun and coming to cool places like this and I'm also loving the journey it's taking not only me but (also) my friends and my family," Maddocks said.
"Last Saturday was a really special moment so I'm just really happy to be doing what I'm doing at the moment.
"[The Big Bash] is a bit of a pipedream but I wasn't being too serious when I said that, but if anyone wants to take me up I'd love it. It would be ideal - miss pre-season."
The relaxed rookie conceded that while he shouldn't have been given his Super Rugby debut as early as he did, he is more than ready for Saturday's ultimate rugby challenge after debuting on the international scene at ANZ Stadium.
"It's obviously going to be incredibly special no matter what the circumstances are but there was an element where I felt I'd earned it a bit more," Maddocks said.
"I remember my first game, at the end of 2016, I got called up for my first game of the season and was on the bench for the last game of the year against the Reds and I'd done one week of training and I felt like I didn't deserve it.
"I didn't get on which I was actually quite happy about because I would have rather be thrust in when I felt I had earned it and I feel like with the Wallabies I felt like that was the case.
"I started in November last year so I felt a bit more satisfying knowing that you'd done the work first.
"Last week was really disappointing, the monkey on the back sort of thing that everyone seems to be talking about this week at Eden Park, it's my first experience there if I play in the Test match so I don't really feel that sort of stuff. It's a fresh start for me."