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Ralston relishing Junior Wallabies Chance

A total of four Western Force players have been selected for the Junior Wallabies training camp in Canberra.

The camp, held at the Australian Institute of Sports in Canberra, will see Byron Ralston, Grason Makara, Jackson Pugh, Ollie Callan, as well as RugbyWA Senior Academy players Reece Anapu and Alex Masibaka stake their claim for selection in the 2020 under-20 World Rugby Championships.

Ralston, who enjoyed a breakout campaign last year after finishing second in NRC try-scoring charts and sealing a move to the Western Force, is “really excited” for the opportunity.

“It’s great, not just for me, but for my family as well. I can’t wait to get stuck into it,” he said.

“It’s awesome to have so many of the WA boys here, we’re all rooming together and we’ve got a good buzz around each other, so we’re able to bounce ideas off one another and push us to perform.”

The 19-year-old, who joined the Force last September after shining for Brisbane Premier Grade side Brothers Rugby Club, was quick to praise the number of WA players involved.

“I was speaking to some of the boys here at camp and this is one of the biggest numbers in terms of WA being represented, so the work of head coach Tim Sampson and Jamie Papa (RugbyWA Academy Strength and Conditioning) to help transition these boys into a professional environment is great.

“These coaches have been doing such a great job of nurturing us and getting the best out of all of us.”

Having been a part of the victorious under-20 Oceanic Championships Junior Wallabies side in 2019, the outside-back is well aware of the importance of these camps for the years ahead.

“It’s all about gaining knowledge by learning about what the systems will be, the principles of everyday professional life and hitting all of those markers, so that when we hit the field we can be the best we can be.

“It’s fantastic to have coaches like Jason Gilmore, Shannon Fraser and Ben Mowen, they bring so much experience and lessons with them.

“To have Ben there, who was a former Wallaby Captain just a few years ago, is really exciting and we can’t wait to learn from him and other coaches as we continue to develop those working relationships.”

Having missed out on last year’s under-20 World Championships squad, Ralston is hoping to prove himself in Canberra and take a big step towards selection for the 2020 tournament.

“Being one of the younger players last year it was a big learning curve for myself and I took a lot of lessons out of the Oceanic Championships.

“Coming into this year I’ve certainly grown as a player through that experience and I’ve learned not to take a backwards step and really grab the opportunities with both hands.

“Obviously you want to perform in front of the coaches, but also gain as much knowledge as possible to put a step forward. We’re lucky enough to have a crack at trialing for the jersey, so it’s pretty exciting with the under-20 World Championships this year, so it’s definitely a big incentive to try and get over to Italy.”

When it comes to goals with the Junior Wallabies, Ralston had no doubts about ambitions after agonisingly missing out on the world title in a 24-23 loss to France last year.

“For us it’s about going back-to-back in the Oceanic competition and then to go on and go one better at the World Championships.

Byron, Grason, Jackson and Ollie all arrived at camp in Canberra yesterday.

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