Tom Wright, a wing of raw pace and dazzling feet, has walked an unusual path - from the National Rugby League to Wallaby gold.
A genuine, high-quality finisher, Wright juggled both league and union as a boy. Raised in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, Wright split his weekend between league for the Clovelly Crocodiles and rugby for the Clovelly Eagles. In 2009, Wright headed off to board at St Joseph’s College in Hunters Hill. Wright said that his time at Joeys “was the making of him, that he learned self-reliance, independence and time management.” He also played rugby, as a fly-half, and made the College’s feted 1st XV.
So promising was Wright that he caught the eye of NRL Immortal Bob Fulton, who was looking to replace the Parramatta-bound Kieran Foran. In 2016, Manly signed Wright into the NRL. “It was a pretty awesome opportunity straight out of school,” Wright recalled. Sea Eagles CEO Joe Kelly described Wright as “the most exciting schoolboy rugby prospect in Australia.” After two seasons of U20s Wright came off the bench to make his first-grade debut in 2018, against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp.
Following “a tumultuous season on the northern beaches” the Brumbies snuck in under Manly’s guard to poach Wright back to rugby. At that time coach Dan McKellar said, "We've been aware of Tom's rugby union background and heard he was interested in coming back to the game. "He's got X-factor and there's definitely potential there. He's creative, good footwork, good speed and good acceleration. He can create something out of nothing.”
In 2019, Wright made his Super Rugby debut against the Chiefs in Canberra and the following year scored nine tries in 13 appearances to earn a first Test cap, against New Zealand in Brisbane.
2020 Wright won his first Test cap on the right wing in the 24-22, fourth Test victory over the All Blacks at Suncorp. In that match Wright - with his first touch - became the 99th Australian to score a try on debut. He also started both home internationals against Argentina.
2021 He was capped in each of the first two Tests against France at home before Andrew Kellaway was preferred at No. 14. A positive performance off the bench against Argentina on the Gold Coast saw him win a starting spot for all four Tests on the end-of-season Spring Tour.
2022 Wright missed the season’s opening Test, against England in Perth, but returned to play in all 13 remaining internationals with six starts on the right wing, four on the left and three at fullback.