Will Genia knows X-factor when he sees it and, to him, it's written all over Wallabies rookie Jack Maddocks.
Maddocks is a bolter from the blue for Australia's first Test of the year against Ireland on Saturday night, particularly considering he was more focused on cricket than rugby just over two years ago.
Breakout season: Jack Maddocks.Photo: AAP
The 21-year-old speedster has been a revelation at fullback for the Melbourne Rebels this season, crossing for eight tries - the fourth most in the competition.
Watching on closely, marvelling at the talent and potential of the Sydney product, Rebels teammate Genia says Maddocks has truly blossomed since getting a shock call-up for last year's spring tour.
The youngster received Michael Cheika's nod on the back of a star turn in propelling Australia's under 20s to a rare win over New Zealand a year before.
Genia, the 88-Test halfback, saw a young kid pinching himself about being on a European tour but now he's an assured performer.
"He's more confident in himself as a person which allows him to express himself off the field, and likewise on the field," he said.
"He's not afraid to back himself, to run and to kick and do whatever he likes.
"He's got incredible talent. He's incredibly quick, he's good under the high ball, he's a big guy, he's strong in contact and he's just got X-factor all over him."
Maddocks' Rebels form has him well and truly in the mix for a Test debut at Suncorp Stadium, especially as his pace on the wing gives him versatility for an Australian bench spot.
But with Australia's playmaking cupboard bare behind Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale, he's been viewed as a Test five-eighth of the future.
Genia says the chance for the youngster to grow more rubbing shoulders with the likes of Foley, Beale, Israel Folau and David Pocock during the three-Test series against Ireland will be invaluable.
"He seems like a bit of an airhead - like he's a space cadet - but he's actually got a good footy brain," the vice-captain said.
"He knows where to be, and when to be there, and he's very hungry to learn."
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