A 'TAH ON THE RISE: Coonamble's Hanigan joins Super Rugby Club for 2016 season

NED Hanigan is a star on the rise.

The Coonamble boy earned Australian Schoolboys selection in 2013, and last year represented Australia at the World Rugby 20s Championships in Italy, where he was named Australia's MVP.

Now his career has soared to new heights, with Hanigan elevated into the core training squad for the NSW Waratahs just before Christmas.

"I think it was a bit surreal," he said.

"Daryl (Gibson, Waratahs head coach) called me into his office and said 'you've been training well and we want to pull you on full-time'.

"I wasn't really expecting it and it has made me think about things being fast-tracked a bit more than I thought, and I'm kind of excited I guess."

He's looking forward to playing with the likes of Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley and backrower Michael Hooper, but the humble 20-year-old isn't getting ahead of himself.

"You've got guys like Michael Hooper who have been in there for a long time, so if I get a chance to play alongside them it'll be an absolute honour but there needs to be a lot happen before then," he said.

"We're out there training next to them and running short balls and stuff like that.

"I think the first game is the 27th of February against the Reds at Allianz Stadium but I doubt I'll be running out then."

It's a long way from home for Hanigan, who played soccer in Coonamble before the town had a junior rugby side.

He played with the Coonamble Rams for just one year, before making the move to St Joseph's Hunter's Hill for year seven.

"Coming down here, it was a big step as a 13-year-old but now I've been here for a while I think I've sort of gotten used to it," he said.

He's also gotten used to being on the road, touring with the NSW Country Eagles and the Australian under-20s in recent years.

Now he's looking forward to being "a bit more stationary".

"I'm not moving around as much and I'll be Sydney-based for at least the next year," Hanigan said.

"I think there won't be any overseas trips as such, but it'll still be busy being in a fulltime Super Rugby franchise."

Despite living fulltime in Sydney for the best part of the last seven years, Hanigan still calls Coonamble home.

"There's no place like home," he said.

"I miss home and I try and get back there as often as I can."

The 20-year-old spent ten days back in Coonamble over the Christmas break, and said news of his success has travelled fast in the tight-knit town.

It's success he said he owes to his parents' dedication and support.

"My Mum and Dad came over to Italy to watch me play and they've always been there," Hanigan said.

"I hold dearly having them on the sideline - I know a lot of kids don't have that opportunity to have their parents watch them play.

"Driving 650 kilometres just to see me then 650 kilometres back, 1300 kilometres all up, it's something when your young you don't really realise, but you know it's a sacrifice they've made and you hold it dear."


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