HE realised a dream on it last year and yesterday Tamworth’s Paddy Ryan flew out for his second Spring Tour.
The culmination of what has been a big albeit difficult year for the Wallabies, this year’s tour will take on “grand” proportions, with the Wallabies tackling all four home nations.
“I’m rapt,” the Waratahs prop said.
“This year is a great opportunity to go on a grand slam tour.”
It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around every year, and something that has proven tough for the Wallabies to achieve.
Andrew Slack’s 1984 side was the last Wallabies team to win the grand slam.
Ryan was admittedly surprised to get the call from Wallabies coach Ewan McKenzie.
“I hadn’t planned on it at all,” he said.
“I was getting ready for pre-season.”
After missing out on most of the earlier squads, he didn’t think he’d be one of the 32.
“I thought they’d take five (props). But I thought Scott Sio had the rub of the green on me,” he said.
They did take five but it was Ryan and not Sio who got the nod.
Like the Wallabies, he has high hopes for the tour, and is hoping to add a couple of caps to his one.
He earned that coming off the bench in the Wallabies’ tour-opening 33-6 defeat to France.
“Last year was probably a bit more development for me,” he said. “This year there’s no excuses.”
He has been working hard on his game, especially his scrummaging.
“My scrummaging is what’s let me down in the past and prevented me getting more starts for the Tahs,” he said.
“It’s something I’ve got to make sure I really improve.”
But he was pretty happy with how he matched up against fellow Wallaby tourist Benn Robinson in the Shute Shield final.
The tour will be a huge test for Ryan and his fellow front- rowers.
After struggling against the Lions, the Wallabies scrum is no doubt going to come under plenty of scrutiny, both from the British media and opposition packs.
But the Wallabies are braced for that and are keen to dish out some revenge.
They’ll get their first chance against England next Saturday.
“The England front row formed two-thirds of the front row that messed us up in the Lions series,” Ryan said.
After England on November 2, the Wallabies will face Italy, Ireland and Scotland before finishing off the tour against Wales on November 30.
“It should be a cracking game to finish the tour, especially if it’s for the grand slam,” he said.
The Ireland test though is the one he’s most excited about.
He spent a bit of time there after he finished school and, having been a fan in Dublin during Test week and seeing how excited the town gets, he’s looking forward to experiencing it from the other side.
“I’m excited to play the Irish,” Ryan said.
“But I think all those teams will be a great challenge.”
“Italy are a completely different story at home to away,” he said.
“You saw that last year.”
The Wallabies head north having won just two of their last eight games, but Ryan is optimistic.
“I think results have been poor but there’s some promise there,” Ryan said.
“The forwards have come good the last couple of games.”
That’s the crux for the Wallabies, as he sees it.
“That’s what has to happen for us,” he said.
If the forwards can get it right then that will create one on one opportunities for the likes of Israel Folau.
And if they can do that, they’re a chance of scoring.
“Aussie sides have always had great outside backs,” Ryan said.
But the good Australian sides have had a good forward pack too.
He said if they can roll the Poms, it will set them up for a good tour.