They say first impressions are the most lasting.
It’s an art young Waratah, Angus Bell has clearly mastered when it comes to his club, and now Country Eagles coach, Rob Taylor.
Straight out of school, the Newington product was given a taste of the top level very quickly.
“We went to New Zealand this year [February 2019] and played the Highlanders development squad and the Crusader Knights,” Taylor said.
“It was sort of one of his first experiences around the grade squad and just the club in general.
“He played in the Highlanders game and then we went to Christchurch to play the Knights, we didn’t select him that team because they had a very capable [forward] pack.
“Despite not being selected in the team, he got up the next day and went for a run in the morning, on his own, around the streets.
“I just thought – that might be very small and insignificant to many people – that was just old school, but showed his dedication to his footy.”
It’s a moment that Taylor says epitomises Bell and his commitment to his craft.
“He’s got massive standards for himself in the way of preparation and recovery.
“Not only has he got the physical attributes, he’s got the mental attributes to learn and grow, be hungry for knowledge and develop.”
Standing at over 190cm and weighing in at more than 120kg, Bell is not your average 18-year-old.
“God knows how big he’s going to be in the next few years,” Taylor joked.
Despite the praise he offered his young charger, Taylor was quick to note that Bell was still finding his way in senior rugby, but was being afforded the very best education.
“He’s an exciting prospect but he’s got a long way to go – he’s certainly showed a lot of promising signs,” Taylor said.
“With Uni there’s been so many quality front rowers around the place to help with his development, then into the NRC he’s around more Super Rugby players – he’s just getting a really good education.
“He’s working with the likes of Tom [Robertson] and Harry [Johnson-Holmes] all the time.”
In all, it’s been a big year for Bell, training with the Waratahs, taking part in a U20 World Cup and winning a Shute Shield and 1st Colts with Sydney University.
“From speaking with him, I think the World Cup experience was a very valuable one and he came back with a broader experience and knowledge,” Taylor said.
Bell took that experience into the opening game of the NRC, putting in a huge performance that was no surprise to Taylor.
Notching 8 carries, making 15 tackles, forcing a turnover and scoring a try – Bell was busy.
However, he will miss the Eagles Round 2 clash with Melbourne Rising with a minor ankle injury.
“There has been plenty for a guy of his age to take in [during 2019], and he’ll probably hate it but a little break could be good for him,” Taylor said.
Bell’s carries were certainly on show for all to see, but Taylor was happy to see the young prop not shirk his primary task.
“He showed that [strong carries] in the Shute Shield, bumping off men and fending off backs and it was certainly noticed by a lot of people.
“The set piece ultimately is going to be the most important thing for any front rower, no matter how big you are or how many carries you make – you’ve got to be able to scrum, understand the lineout and close contact.
“Seeing him play in the Shute Shield, in the NRC you can certainly see that he’s very competent at scrumming and he’s only going to get better.”