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Who let the Dog out? Ryan credits fringe Wallaby for unleashing huge potential - 'he's always barking at me'

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27th May, 2024
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Jock Campbell might never have the Wallabies career his many fans think he deserves, but he is proving king maker for one of the hottest young talents in the game.

Tim Ryan’s arrival at the Reds has been nothing short of spectacular. On Saturday, Ryan scored his second hat-trick of tries in his seven-game 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 teammate Matt Faessler, has nine tries and of course launched speculation about how soon he might be thrust into the international limelight.

After his three tries against the Force he revealed Campbell’s role in his development since being called up by Les Kiss for round 10.

Asked on the Stan Sport post-game coverage who had been the biggest help, Ryan replied: “Jock Campbell, actually.

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

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

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

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Flook might have helped Ryan to a fourth try in the nine try romp only to pass to Fraser McReight inside with Ryan outside and the line open.

The speedy rise has grabbed the headlines and the attention of the rugby community.

“One of the things we’ve noticed about your entry has just been, it looks like you’ve played 50 games already,” ex-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 defence during the round 12 Super Rugby Pacific match between Queensland Reds and 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 won’t let the increasing hype affect him negatively.

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

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Kiss, as you’d expect, seems keen to dampen any hype, although he revealed he’s letting the dog off the leash a little more as the season progressed.

“I did control him in the media earlier on because he’s a young man – and at least now the conversation’s about his footy more than the Junkyard Dog statement,” Kiss acknowledged. “That’s all part of the theatre, I understand that, but he’d doing good things on the footy pitch.

“It’s happening for Timmy at the moment. He knows that it’s on the back of some good teamwork – like the tight five and our back row were brilliant to create the space and then he does profit from it – but he finds a way, doesn’t he?

“He’s still level headed. There’s nothing that I’m worried about. Still a lot to learn, but he’s got the sniff, hasn’t he?”

The Reds will face the Chiefs in week one of the finals – after a final regular season clash against the Waratahs.

Kiss was giving little away 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 quarterfinal.

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His only regret right now might be a few performances along the way that cost his team a top four finish but in a fascinating post-game chat he made it clear how he was developing the team in his first season in charge.

“Early in the year, we had a bias to try and find out how good we could play with ball in hand as much as possible. See how our set-piece went down near the try line. As we’ve grown our game, I think there’s been a bit more balance about how we attack those things.

“Tonight was probably the biggest example. Just going for threes, putting the score out a little bit further. More importantly, after doing that, we got our restart, and we stayed on track with good attacking, fast, dynamic footy. The boys profited.

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“In the last two weeks, we did balance our side out a little bit. No team’s come back from Fiji and won their next game.

“That’s a big plus. We had a plan there, and that came to fruition for us. We’re talking with the coaches about into next week, because you do think about those things.

“We don’t want to take the foot off if we’ve got a good go on it. Some guys do deserve a chance as well, and some guys have still got some niggles. We’ll make some decisions early in the week, but it’s good to know that we can blend that team.

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“We’ve got some options, haven’t we? It’s nice to have.”

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