A rollercoaster ride would be the best way to describe 2017 for Tamworth twins Angus and Lachlan Windred.
After making the move down to Sydney to pursue their rugby dreams, the former Pirates juniors both endured lengthy injury lay-offs that curtailed their season.
Angus missed pretty much the first half of the season and Lachlan the last half after injuring his knee in what was, ironically, Angus’ first game back after breaking his leg playing for the Waratahs under 19s against the Waratahs under 20s.
In a twist of fate on the same day he found out that he’d been selected in the Stockman Rugby squad for their five-game tour New Zealand and Argentina in October and November.
A unique concept, Stockman’s provides the opportunity to tour to young players from remote, rural and regional areas whilst raising awareness about mental health and well-being.
Lachlan was also part of the touring party along with their flat-mate Jack Radford, who hails from Rowena.
“It was a great experience playing senior football and learning from all the ex-Wallabies and all the senior players,” Angus Windred said.
Former Wallabies Chris Roche and Tony Melrose were the coaches for the tour, and Windred said he learnt a lot off Melrose, who was captain of the 1977 Australian schoolboys side – rugby’s version of ‘the Invincibles’ - and later went on to forge a successful rugby league career.
He also picked up a lot from Walcha’s Simon Newton.
There wasn’t one big lesson as such, it was more an accumulation of little things like taking a few more risks and backing yourself.
Playing predominantly on the wing, Windred finished what was a very successful tour for the Country boys, winning four of their five games, as the equal top-tryscorer with three tries.
The two games in New Zealand and three in Argentina presented different challenges for them and even saw them come up against a few internationals.
“In New Zealand we played some Super Rugby players and Olympic sevens players,” Windred said.
“In Argentina we played a few junior internationals and in the last game we played one of the Argentinian sevens players.”
It was more than just the rugby though. They got to really experience the local culture.
Another highlight for Windred was visiting was Iquazu Falls, which is one of the New7Wonders of Nature.
A step out of the juniors/colts bubble, one of the biggest things he said he has taken away from the tour is confidence. It was his first real experience playing with, and against, senior players, and has also given him the spur to try and make the jump to grade at North’s next season.
This season he played a bit of second and first grade colts.
Firsts finished ninth while seconds made it through to the semi-finals.
Windred’s try-scoring feats on the tour were a continuation of a strong end to the season.
He scored 11 tries in eight games. Lachlan meanwhile bagged 10 in 11 games and Radford 14 in 19.
The three will be uniting again in January at the Darwin 7s – the aptly named Hottest 7s in the World.