Ryan McCauley out to prove himself at U20s World Cup

Australian U20s and Waratahs lock Ryan McCauley is hoping to prove he’s ready to play Super Rugby with a strong World Championship campaign.

The giant lock will return for his second crack at the championships and said he’s got a lot to prove in Georgia next month.

“It’s a great stepping-stone. A lot of the guys playing Super Rugby now were playing in this tournament not long ago, guys like Issak Rodda, Andrew Kellaway, Mack Mason.

“You can see the pathway and that’s exciting but it’s going to be a really good test to play against the best 20 year olds in the world.”

Australia was thumped by New Zealand 43-6 on the Gold Coast earlier this month and coach Simon Cron blamed a lack of core skills for the disappointing result.

“We had Mario Ledesma and Mick Byrne down for the first few days of camp and we worked really hard on our basic skills and changing some of the bad habits some of us had,” McCauley said.

“Obviously our skills let us down on the Gold Coast so we’ve been working hard to sharpen up in those key areas. We start every session with a habit changing activity and we’ve been working a lot on our skills under fatigue.”

Australia hasn’t finished in the top four in their last five attempts at the annual championships but McCauley said he had a good feeling about the current squad.

“Cronny (Simon Cron) has challenged us to be the best Australian U20s team ever. That’s been a bit of a theme,” McCauley said.

“As he (Cron) said, Georgia isn’t exactly a holiday destination, so we’re preparing to go over there to get a job done. It’s a bit of a joke but I think it’s a perfect metaphor because we’re not going over there for a holiday, we want to win and if we keep progressing as we have been, I think we can.”

The squad will depart for Georgia later this week, ahead of pool matches against Wales, Samoa and England early next month.

While McCauley admitted there would be no easy matches, he said he was already looking forward to the clash against England after falling just short against the eventual champions last year.

“Wales are going to be tough but it gives us a really good chance to make a statement early in the tournament with a good performance. Then we’ve got Samoa and England and they’ll both be very tough,” he said.

“That loss England last year really hurt, I think we left a lot out on the field that day and it’s something that has stayed on my mind since so I’m really looking forward to getting another crack at them. Plus, England won it last year so it would be great to knock them off.”

Now in his second year with the Waratahs, McCauley said he was starting to see the benefits from training full time as a professional rugby player.

“It’s been unreal, it’s hard to explain just how much of an impact it’s had on me as a person and as a player. Personally, I think I’m a lot more mature now on and off the field. You pick up some of the habits off the older guys like Hoops (Michael Hooper) and Dean Mumm and I’ve tried to add them to my game,” he said.

“I’ve been working hard to get my body right, doing all the little things away from training that you need to do to be at your best. I’ve really focussed on a few key skills as well so hopefully I can put my best foot forward.”

McCauley and the Australian U20s begin their World Championship campaign against Wales on June 1.