For the best part of three years Darren Coleman scoured the world to try and find a second-rower of world-class potential. In the end, all it took was luring back a homegrown talent of huge potential to fill one of the crucial missing pieces for the NSW Waratahs.
But while leg-ups and shortcuts have been a constant in recent history across the Australian rugby landscape, Miles Amatosero won’t be given a starting jersey in the Waratahs’ pack unless he proves himself.
“I’ve heard some of the press around him that he’s the next Will Skelton and he’s a Wallaby ready to go, I think that’s unfair on him,” Coleman told The Roar.
“He’s got all the tools to get there, but he hasn’t done it yet. Whether he takes time, I don’t know.”
Amatosero, 21, arrived in Sydney last week after finishing up with French Top 14 club Clermont.
The Sydney-born 203cm, 123kg lock was signed fresh out of school after being given trials by Saracens and Clermont.
In the end, the Waverley product signed with Clermont and it didn’t take long for him to earn his first cap and since then he’s built steadily.
After Emmanuel Meafou pledged his allegiance to Les Bleus, the rich rugby nation set its sights on capturing Amatoero.
But, to the relief of Rugby Australia officials, Amatosero signed with the Waratahs to be closer to his family and the chance to one day pull on the Wallabies jersey.
“I can’t play for the Wallabies while I’m over there,” Amatosero told The Roar in June during a brief holiday home.
“That’s my goal, and that can’t happen while I’m over there. I’ve got to come back home at some point because I won’t wear another jersey.”
Late last week, Amatosero walked through the doors at the Waratahs’ headquarters in Daceyville and was put through some medical tests.
On Monday, he hit the ground running and has already left an impression.
Alongside fellow Fijian recruit Mesu Kunavula, 195cm, 125kg versatile forward, the pair have injected some natural size that has been dearly missed in years gone by.
Indeed, the Waratahs have never recovered since Jacques Potgieter left the franchise in 2015.
The steady trickle of second-rowers departing the franchise after, including Will Skelton, meant the Waratahs resorted to playing hybrid forwards capable of playing across the second and back-row but unable to dominate upfront where it matters most.
It’s why Coleman has been licking his lips over the past few months, knowing that at long last he has some raw power and depth in the second-row.
After an underwhelming year, where the Waratahs’ year barely got going after a slow start, which included the devastating injury to Angus Bell, Coleman said Amatosero wouldn’t be given any free passes despite his impressive pedigree.
“We’ve got depth, we’ve got coverage there. We’ve got [Jed] Holloway, [Hugh] Sinclair and [Fergus] Lee-Warner, he’s going to have to play well to get his starting spot,” Coleman said.
“But what he has that none of the others have is that physical status and physicality. He’s a big aggressive boy.
“For the three years I’ve been here, I’ve searched the world high and low on the salary cap restrictions we had to get a world-class tight-head, six-foot six-seven-eight lock back, Aussie qualified.
“It took me three years to find one and the beauty is that he’s got so much upside, he’s still only 21.”