Wright and Maddocks grew up in Sydney together and seeing his childhood mate thrive in open and attacking rugby was an extra incentive to link with the Brumbies.
Maddocks will be starting on the wing for the Rebels and scored two tries in Melbourne’s round-one win against the Brumbies, which doubled as Wright’s Super Rugby debut.
Wright, 21, had to wait until last week to score his first try for the Brumbies and coach Dan McKellar is excited about what he can inject into the back line.
“I like his natural instincts and natural ability. He’s got good footwork, good speed and is going to challenge any defensive line or fatigued defender,” McKellar said.
“He’s not going to play the perfect role at No. 12 [yet], but I don’t need him to go out there and over-think his game. I just want him to play his natural game, that’s when he’s at his best.
“Playing with a clear mind and backing himself because he’s certainly got the backing of us.”
Wright praised Maddocks when he signed his Brumbies deal last year and was excited to test himself in Super Rugby.
“I saw Jack’s mum after he made his debut … we’ve known each other since we were knee-high to a grasshopper, since we were five or six years old and now we could be playing each other again [in Super Rugby],” Wright said in September.
“…Jack has done really well for himself in the last 18 months, he came out and started killing it and put his name on the map. I’m stoked for him – he’s the best fella.
“The way I see Australian rugby going at the moment, they’re starting to play some expansive footy and that suits what Jack has been doing at Super Rugby level.
“I take heaps of confidence out of what Jack has been able to do. He’s set a bit of a platform … he swooped on his chance and I think he’s going to hold his position.
“That’s what I’m taking for my move to Canberra. Rip in and the rewards will come from that.”
Wright played four games for Manly last year and has already shown his versatility at the Brumbies, moving between fullback and the wing before getting a shot at inside centre.
He is one of five new faces in the Brumbies’ starting side this week, with Rob Valetini, Sam Carter, Tom Cusack and Henry Speight all being recalled. Ryan Lonergan and Murray Douglas have been added to the bench.
McKellar says Wright is still developing after deciding to make the transition back to rugby union, but the St Joseph’s College product has a thirst for knowledge.
The challenge now is taking on the Rebels’ playmaker combination of Quade Cooper and Billy Meakes, who have been impressive in Melbourne’s two wins this year.
“He spends a lot of time with coaches going through vision and putting himself in a position to be the best he can be as quickly as he can be,” McKellar said.
“Before he even got to Canberra he was asking for vision and sending through reports of what he was seeing. Guys like that, you want to see them have success.”
SUPER RUGBY ROUND FOUR
Friday: Melbourne Rebels v ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, 7.45pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports.
Brumbies: 1. Scott Sio, 2. Folau Faingaa, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 4. Rory Arnold, 5. Sam Carter, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. David Pocock, 8. Tom Cusack, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Andy Muirhead, 12. Tom Wright, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Henry Speight, 15. Tom Banks. Reserves: 16. Josh Mann-Rea, 17. James Slipper, 18. Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 19. Murray Douglas, 20. Pete Samu, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Wharenui Hawera, 23. Chance Peni.
Rebels: 1. Matt Gibbon, 2. Robbie Abel, 3. Sam Talakai, 4. Adam Coleman, 5. Matt Philip, 6. Rob Leota, 7. Brad Wilkin, 8. Isi Naisarani, 9. Will Genia, 10. Quade Cooper, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Billy Meakes, 13. Tom English, 14. Jack Maddocks, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty. Reserves: 16. Anaru Rangi, 17. Tetera Faulkner, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. Luke Jones, 20. Ross Haylett-Petty, 21. Richard Hardwick, 22. Michael Ruru, 23. Reece Hodge.
Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.