The World Rugby U20 Championship offers rugby fans from around the world the opportunity to see the next generation of players who will make it in the game.
From an Irish point of view, if you look back at the 2016 U20 team who reached the final of the world championships, the likes of James Ryan, Andrew Porter and Jacob Stockdale have since gone on to excel on the world stage at senior international level.
There is a current crop of Irish players who look set for big futures and with a U20 Grand Slam Six Nations title already under their belt this year, there was no shortage of confidence coming into the world championships.
However, a plethora of injuries, fatigue and the unfortunate sending off Ryan Baird early on saw Noel McNamara’s side come unstuck against a talented Australia U20s team.
This Junior Wallabies team have had an impressive 2019 where they secured a maiden win in the U20 Oceania Championship which included a win over New Zealand and have already secured their spot in the semi-finals of the World Championships thanks to their back-to-back wins over Italy and Ireland.
One of the standout performers on Saturday in that win over the Irish was towering lock Nick Frost.
One of the most exciting moments in the win over Ireland was when he scored a superb solo try from inside his own half.
First of all, Frost showed great skill to collect the kick-off above his head before beginning an incredible run which saw him utilise his pace, footwork and strength to avoid the attention of some desperate Irish tackling before touching down for a crucial try.
Filth. Give a young Aussie lock to the Kiwis and they do this to him!! Disturbing!
Crazy, crazy try for a second row.pic.twitter.com/rGepeIOX5B
— Ali Stokes (@alistokesmedia) June 8, 2019
Former Wallabies coach Matt Williams described him as “the most talented 20-year-old lock” he has seen since Australia legend John Eales.
But who is Nick Frost and how did he become one of the most exciting young players Australia have produced?
Standing at 6’7″, Frost played rugby with Knox Grammar School in Sydney before going on to represent Australia at schoolboy level.
However, in October 2017, Frost made the decision to sign with New Zealand Super Rugby franchise, the Crusaders, to take part in their development programme.
There was major disappointment at the time in Australian rugby circles due to the fact that Frost was one of the most talented young players coming through the system.
Frost’s decision was due to the requirement to be in the best possible environment for his development and the Crusaders is considered the best in the world in that regard.
As a result, he denied the opportunity to take a spot in the Waratahs’ setup and opted to cross the Tasman sea to set up shop on New Zealand’s south island.
However, Frost has since returned home to Australia and he has taken up an opportunity with Canberra-based Super Rugby franchise the Brumbies who currently lead the Australian conference and are a guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.
Although Frost signed a three-year development contract with the Crusaders, he has cut that short to return to his home country with representing the Wallabies very much contributing to his reasoning.
“I looked at the long-term and decided that I wanted to play for the Wallabies in the future,” Frost said in a Brumbies statement.
“It was a good learning experience at the Crusaders, living away from home and growing as an individual and it was an opportunity to play away from home.
“I learned a lot about structure and about how New Zealanders play rugby. It took me a while to learn, but once I got it, it came easily. It was a very enjoyable time. It certainly suited my style as a player but now I’m excited by the prospects on offer here.
“Canberra seems similar to Christchurch as a small City and it’s easy to do things here. Off-field it feels like a great fit for me with the style of rugby as well as the culture and environment at the Brumbies.”
Moving to a different country at such a young age to further develop his career must be commended and it will be interesting to see how the 19-year-old’s career develops now that he is back on Australian soil.