Who let the dog out? Ryan credits fringe Wallaby for unlocking huge potential

Jock Campbell may never have the Wallabies career his many fans believe he deserves, but he is proving to be the kingmaker for one of the game’s finest young talents.

The arrival of Tim Ryan to the Reds has been spectacular. On Saturday, Ryan scored his second hat-trick of tries in his seven-match career, the first Reds player to do so since Super Rugby turned professional in 1996.

So far the youngster, whose ‘Junkyard Dog’ was revealed by team-mate Matt Faessler, has nine tries and has of course sparked speculation as to when he might be thrust into the international spotlight.

After his three attempts against the Force, he revealed Campbell’s role in his development since Les Kiss called him up for Round 10.

When asked in Stan Sport’s post-game coverage who had been the most helpful, Ryan replied: “Jock Campbell, actually.

“Obviously, he’s a full-back and not so much a winger, but he really helps me a lot with my positioning on the field. He’s always barking at me. He has helped me a lot. And then obviously Mac Grealy and all the other wingers at the club, we always help each other in training.”

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Ryan also presented flowers to Queensland centers Hunter Paisami – “absolute destruction as a ball runner” – and Josh Flook.

Flook could have set Ryan up for a fourth down on nine attempts only to pass to Fraser McReight inside with Ryan outside and the line open.

The rapid rise has captured the headlines and attention of the rugby community.

“One of the things we’ve noticed about your coming in is that it looks like you’ve already played 50 games,” former Wallaby Justin Harrison told Ryan after the game.

“Your ability to find space and finish is one of your key attributes.”

Tim Ryan of the Reds breaks away from the defense during the Super Rugby Pacific Round 12 match between the Queensland Reds and the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium on May 10, 2024 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Tim Ryan scores against the Force. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Reds co-captain Liam Wright is also impressed and believes Ryan will not let the growing hype affect him negatively.

“He’s a real finisher, he gets into space and works hard to get there,” Wright said. “It’s also fast.” He’s a great player, he’s a great young man and he’s definitely not getting too far ahead of himself, which I think is the key for someone like that.”

Kiss, as expected, seems willing to put the brakes on any hype, although he revealed that he will let the dog loose a little more as the season progresses.

“I checked on him in the media before because he’s a young man, and at least now the conversation is more about his football than the Junkyard Dog statement,” Kiss acknowledged. “That’s all part of the theater, I understand it, but he was doing good things on the football field.

“That’s what’s happening to Timmy right now. He knows it’s down to good teamwork, like the tight five and our back row were brilliant at creating the space and then he benefits from it, but he finds a way, doesn’t he?

“He is still sensible. There is nothing that worries me. He still has a lot to learn, but he knows how to sniff, right?

The Reds will face the Chiefs in the first week of the finals, following the final regular season clash against the Waratahs.

Kiss were revealing little about how they might approach the game against their biggest rivals. He has the luxury of being able to rest as many as he wants to protect them for the quarterfinals.

The only regret he can have at the moment are some performances along the way that cost his team a top-four finish, but in a fascinating post-match chat he made it clear how he was developing the team in his first season in charge.

“At the beginning of the year, we had a tendency to try to figure out how well we could play with the ball in our hands as much as possible. See how our set piece fell close to the try line. As we’ve grown our game, I think there’s been a little more balance in how we attack those things.

“Tonight was probably the biggest example. I’m just going for three, pushing the score a little further. More importantly, after doing that, we reset and stayed the course with good, fast, dynamic attacking football. The boys benefited.

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“In the last two weeks, we managed to balance our team a little bit. Neither team came back from Fiji and won their next match.

“That’s a big advantage. We had a plan there and it came true. We are talking with the coaches until next week, because you think about those things.

“We don’t want to lose our footing if we try well. Some guys deserve a chance too, and others still have some problems. We’ll make some decisions early in the week, but it’s good to know we can put that team together.

“We have some options, right? “It’s good to have.”

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