Ned Hanigan stands eight centimetres taller than Sean McMahon, but the Waratahs rookie says he looks up to the Rebels and Wallabies flanker, and his meteoric rugby rise.

McMahon played his first half rugby in 2017, on the field for the second half of the Rebels’ tight derby loss to the Reds, but the 22-year-old as a certain starter for Sunday’s Sydney match-up

The Rebels’ resident Energiser Bunny made an immediate impact in his cameo at AAMI Park, and it’s that energy that Hanigan said he wanted to emulate

“I think the way Sean plays, everything’s at full throttle, no one can deny that,” he said.

“He works hard on and off the ball.

“Anyone that watches him play admires the way he does it, so any player that does that and plays like Sean does, you look up to and hopefully other blokes can look at your game and say a similar thing.”

McMahon’s return to the side, after a six-month injury layoff, injected a spark into the Rebels team and Hanigan said they wouldn’t be expecting the same team they snuck past.

“Having a guy like Sean back in the side, he brings that work ethic into the team but they’re a good outfit, Melbourne, and we’re not going back on the back foot and thinking it’s the same side we played earlier in the year.

“It’s a different team and we’ve got a lot better so we’re concentrating on ourselves.”

This has been Hanigan’s first regular stint in the back row, having shifted between six and second row in recent years of club rugby, but he said he hadn’t changed much in his newfound spot.

“Obviously changing positions there’s different things you have to do through phase shape and stuff like that but it’s still a game of footy, you’ve still got to tuck the ball and carry and whack the bloke that’s coming at you,” he said.

“Keeping all the simple things and trying to do them right and the position-specific stuff, hopefully you do that the best you can.”

The Waratahs host the Rebels on Sunday afternoon, kicking off at 4:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.

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