Two of the latest Wallaby caps mean there’s been a real Wallaby track north from the Tamworth area for a couple of families – and an army of footy fans. Among them are the latest Wallaby women – mums Susan Carter and Maria Ryan, along with dads Dave and Nick.
The couples will be cheering on Wallaby debut lock Sam Carter and reserve prop Paddy Ryan in the Test tonight.
Local families on hand for sons’ Test debuts
Among the fans off on the Wallaby track to Brisbane yesterday for the First Test tonight are the proud mums and dads of the northern zone’s latest Aussie players Sam Carter and Paddy Ryan.
Both families have made the pilgrimage – and for the mums there’s just as much excitement and motherly anxiety as there is fatherly pride and a quiet sense of personal achievement from a couple of dads.
Sam Carter will be on debut for the Wallabies’ game against France at Suncorp Stadium after a surprise selection earlier this week, even though he’d been named in the original 32-man squad.
Paddy Ryan is on the bench and his selection was just as surprising for some northern rugby followers too because he hadn’t been actually named in the squad, but picked to train on.
The confirmation of both blokes in the starting lineup excited more than just their mums.
Paddy’s already had a couple of Wallaby games under his belt but for Sam it’s another first.
So, both families, along with friends and the two Ryan daughters, Grace and Rosie, and the Carter’s only daughter Georgie, all in their early 20s, along with a northern army of union followers, will be in the crowd.
All of them will be hoping to see Paddy run on the paddock at some time while Sam’s out there too. Paddy’s a year older than Sam but they played together at university in Sydney and then shared a house during the off-season when they left college.
While one family has lived in Quirindi, down on the farm at Yarraman for years, and the other has been a Tamworth urban one, there’s been links even before footy.
Susan works in medical records at the Quirindi hospital. Nick’s the head of emergency at Tamworth hospital. Maria’s a midwife lactation consultant. Once, years ago, Nick was Susan’s boss when she worked at the Tamworth base, so the connections were first established in health.
Both mums share the joy of sons who are living their dream, extremely proud of where they’re at and where they’ve come from, and with a maternal love for boys who are patriotic and poised for greater rewards.
Maria speaks about the enormous amount of dedication and commitment from a kid who trains so hard to get fit enough to protect his body at such an elite level. Susan talks about a boy so proud of his dad’s Wallaby status years ago but who now seeks advice from a man whom football commentators say had enough mongrel in him to be as tough as nails in an era when on-field play was ruthless and hard.
Sam’s emergence into Wallaby fame means it’s the first father-and-son duo to play for the Australian team in over 20 years.
Carter senior has been the target of media on the son-of-dad news and been down to earth about talking tactics. Susan says he’s just thrilled – has been mostly a quiet observer of Sam’s rise through the ranks and not pushy, never pushy, at all.
“He sits back and is very quiet and David respects that when Sam asks for his opinion he’s quite comfortable about giving it, but not forcing it.”
So tonight, we might just observe the Carters and the Ryans on the sidelines.
They don’t know if they will be close or not.
Maria will wear “lots of yellow, a big smile and some bright lipstick.”
Susan had to admit Thursday she didn’t own a Wallaby scarf – would borrow her daughter’s or go buy one before the game.
Susan admits to being more anxious than anything else when watching her son play.
“I love the game but I just always think please, don’t get hurt,” Susan said.
“I don’t yell and scream too much but I do jump up and down but I do like a good clean game.”
The Wallaby wife remembers watching David in the first of his six Test hitouts for the Australian side some 26 years ago.
“I stayed at home for that first test and he got knocked out and had to have stitches and I was sitting on the lounge thinking, oh my god. It wasn’t an okay feeling. You just want them to stay injury-free but you do have the flutters.”