Coonamble's Ned Hanigan named to start for Wallabies in Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks

SADDLE UP: Ned Hanigan, pictured at Coolmore with American Pharoah, will start for the Wallabies on Saturday night. Photo: KATRINA PARTRIDGE

SADDLE UP: Ned Hanigan, pictured at Coolmore with American Pharoah, will start for the Wallabies on Saturday night. Photo: KATRINA PARTRIDGE

Coonamble’s Ned Hanigan will be more revved up than intimidated by the sight of an All Blacks haka in front of him before what will be a "dream" first outing against New Zealand.

On Thursday afternoon, Hanigan was been named to start in the back row for the Wallabies’ Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks after an impressive June test series. 

With captain Michael Hooper always assured of the openside breakaway spot, Hanigan, Sean McMahon, Lopeti Timani, Jack Dempsey and Adam Korczyk were fighting for the remaining back row spots but the Coonamble product has got the nod from coach Michael Cheika.

Before Hanigan's debut in Melbourne against Fiji, he recalled how as a kid he would imitate the haka while watching Bledisloe Cup games at the neighbours' house in western NSW. 

At 22, Hanigan is now set to fulfill that boyhood dream.

"I'll go with the cliche but it would honestly be a dream come true," Hanigan told Fairfax Media earlier this week.

"I've watched so many times the haka be played on TV. I've stood in front of it in the juniors and things like that but this would be something else.

"I can't really put into words how it would feel. Seeing it won't intimidate you, it'll rev you up. You can see it revs them up but it definitely gets you excited. You're side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder with guys you've trained with and sweated with for the last three or four months and it'll be something else." 

Hanigan is rarely lost for words on the training paddock or on a footy field but a visit this week to the famed Coolmore Stud had the country lad in horse racing heaven. 

"It was an incredible day, I'm a bit speechless to be honest," Hanigan said.

"We went up there where the stallions were and they pulled [2015 US triple crown winner] American Pharoah out it was a beautiful looking horse. [Two-time Cox Plate winner] So You Think gave a bit of a dance around as well." 

Hanigan grew up on a cattle property and when he was at school in Sydney worked for Gai Waterhouse at one of her stables in Randwick.

So when the chance came up on a day off to go and see one of Australia's most well-known studs, Hanigan could not have jumped at the opportunity any quicker. 

"Any opportunity I get to be back with horses I try," Hanigan said.

"I've got a family friend who has a bit of a stuff in Scone and I've just been around horses my whole life. It interests me. 

"We got on top of the hill and looked across the farm, it's a beautiful spot."

While there was joy for Hanigan, Dubbo Kangaroos junior Tom Robertson missed out and will start from the bench on Saturday.

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