IT’S been a few years since he was running around in it – and his career has kicked along a lot since then – but Paddy Ryan still remembers his days playing for St Nicholas’s and McCarthy in the Friday night schoolboys’ competition in Tamworth.
The NSW Waratahs prop was the special guest at last night’s LBK Solicitors Cup finals night.
He recalled playing for St Nick’s and then McCarthy for a couple of years.
“It was great. I think we (McCarthy) won in 2002 in the U14s.
“We beat TAS.”
Life has changed a lot for the 23-year-old since then, as it has even in the space of this season.
He’s now on the Wallabies’ radar after being selected in the initial training squad in the build-up to the Australian Rugby Championships.
Ryan was a bolter for the squad and admittedly surprised by the call-up – after all he’d only just returned from a foot injury that had seen him miss a fair chunk of the Waratahs season.
“It was great, I really enjoyed it,” he said.
“It was pretty special being involved in that environment and being involved with guys like Robbie (Deans) and Andrew Blades.”
Unfortunately though, his foot injury flared up again two days into the camp.
It ruled him out of the camp the next week and the chance to push for selection in the squad for the Australian Rugby Championships.
He’s hoping to be back for Sydney Uni’s Shute Shield clash with Southern Districts next week, and get a few games in with them.
And while his focus is on helping Uni win another first grade premiership, it is in the back of his mind that if he plays well he might be considered for the Spring Tour.
That has been known to happen before – players getting plucked out of the Shute Shield for the end-of-season tour.
For now though he’s happy to have got a taste.
It was far and above the goals he’d set himself at the start of the season.
“I just wanted to be regularly in the (Waratahs) team,” he said.
That didn’t quite happen but that was through injury not form, and Ryan has learnt a lot out of what has been a rollercoaster season.
“It’s been good. It’s taught me you’ve got to make sure you’re physically ready,” he said.
He said the biggest thing about being involved with the Wallaby program is the confidence it gives you.
“It means there’s a lot you’re doing right,” he said.
The Waratahs’ season was one they’d rather forget, and coach Michael Foley has since departed for the Western Force, but Ryan is optimistic about what’s ahead.
“I think it’s exciting times for us,” he said.
“We can’t get much worse than what happened last season.”