The achievement led Australian Schoolboys coach of the time Pat Langtry to say “Ben and Daniel are both young coaches who have enormous potential in the game”.
“I’m just ecstatic to have that opportunity to coach the country again, and it’s even better coaching it with a good mate,” Hawke said.
“We’ve loved working with each other. We were always mates but not really close. Now through this, we call each other every day.
“I got promoted to the head coaching job [after being an assistant last year], and because I’m a back, they needed a forward. They went through the process and Ben was the best applicant that could fit alongside me.
“It’s just sick that we get two – to even get one Canberra person involved in that sort of set-up at a high level is pretty unique. Last year I was ecstatic to get that, and to have both of us there is awesome.
“Ben and I are so excited because we trust each other immensely and we can start planning now. We’re just looking forward to working together again at a high level.”
Hawke, who also coaches the Queanbeyan Whites colts team, is still allowed to lead the ACT Schoolboys this season but McGee has withdrawn due to the impending arrival of his child.
It means Hawke has called upon Brumbies prospect Ben Hyne and Nick Jones to fill the void as his assistants, with the former on the comeback trail from an anterior cruciate ligament tear.
Hyne has played just five Super Rugby games in his three years at the Brumbies and will likely miss the entire 2019 season after re-tearing his ACL, but it gives him a chance to help blood Canberra’s next generation.
“We’ll go to schools nationals in that second term holidays, and from there pick a Baa-Baas team,” Hawke said.
“If we pick 23 players for the Barbarians team, they don’t pick the actual Australian team until like August. Say we pick 23, 15 of them might make the Australian team which would mean we have to call in the next best 15.
“We just have to pick the best 23 we see at the national schools program. If those kids are then picked in the Australian top team, it means we have to call in more kids.
“We’ll essentially have to pick like 40 players, name 23, and have the next best 17 on a shadows list. If your halfback gets called up to the Australian squad, you have to call in the next one.
“It’s just the nature of the beast, all of those kids will want to play for the top Australian team because they go to New Zealand, whereas we only play Samoa in Sydney and have a one-week program.”
Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times