Walcha outside centre Ed Cordingley received a big but pleasant surprise on Wednesday night.
It was a phone call from NSW Country head coach Mat Thomas informing him he had been selected in the 37-man Cockatoos training squad after impressing at last weekend’s Country Championships in Warren.
“I was not expecting it one little bit at all. It was very much of a shock,” Cordingley said.
“I basically did it just to accompany Patty (Keen) really.”
The Rams centres both played for Mid North Coast.
Making the jump up to the Caldwell Cup it was a tough weekend for the Axeman, losing both of their games.
That contributed to Cordingley’s shock.
He didn’t really feel like he had “much of a chance to do something”.
The first time he has really played at that level, he said the size of the players was probably the biggest thing he noticed.
“Usually there’s one or two big blokes on the opposition team. Instead it was all of them,” he said.
It was a bit of a baptism of fire with the Axeman drawing eventual champions Illawarra first up, and then having to back up against perennial heavyweights Newcastle on Sunday.
“Against Illawarra we stuck with them for 60 minutes,” Cordingley said.
“Then they ran on their bench and they were pretty much the same strength.”
Coming off the back of his best season in a Walcha jersey, Cordingley played a few 7s tournaments with the Northern NSW Hogs side started up by former Inverell locals, and Highlanders, Andrew Kable and Joe deDassel in the pre-season.
“I’ve never done that before either. It was a good experience,” he said.
The first tournament he played in was the aptly named Hottest 7s in the World in Darwin.
“The first team we drew there was the Australian 7s team. That was an experience,” Cordingley said.
It was deDassel that suggested he and Keen to Mid North Coast coach Angus Anderson when the Axeman were struggling for numbers.
A hand injury limited Keen’s time on the field, although he still did enough to make the training squad.
The squad will convene in Singleton later this month for a training camp.
From the camp a team will be selected to embark on a program that includes games against Southern Inland in Sydney, and QLD Country on the Gold Coast in June.
Until then Cordingley’s focus will be on the Rams.
They head down to Quirindi on Saturday, and will be looking to bounce back after being well beaten by Pirates in their grand final rematch.
“Pirates are always hard work and know how to keep things under control,” Cordingley said.
The Lions were thrashed by Moree and have had a tough start to the season but the Rams won’t be taking them lightly.
“Quirindi are always tough down there,” he said.
In the round’s other games Scone travel to Inverell, Barraba are home to Moree, while Pirates host Gunnedah.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.