Paddy Ryan has returned home to Tamworth with most of his rugby story already written. Although he revealed an exciting new chapter may be coming, as another one is probably about to end.
Having played his 106th and final game for the Waratahs last season, the 30-year-old hopes to soon secure his first overseas contract. He expects to soon make an announcement regarding his future, possibly leaving Australia early next year.
So when he skippers NSW Country against Queensland Country, in a final round National Rugby Championship clash at Scully Park on Saturday afternoon, he suspects it will be his last match for the Eagles.
“I’ve got some feelers out, so we'll see how we go,” he said, adding: “I’m a bit older, I suppose … but I don’t have any kids. I’ve just got a partner who is flexible at this stage with her work and stuff, as well.
“So in terms of a good time to travel, from a personal standpoint, now is as good a time as ever.”
Ryan and his Eagles teammates trained at Scully Park on Friday afternoon. He considered Tamworth the Eagles’ “spiritual home”, but concedes he is biased.
When asked what Saturday’s game means to him, given it may be his last for the side, he replied: “It means enjoy it.”
He has been frustrated by the winless Eagles’ form this year after six rounds. Beaten 28-27 by Brisbane City last weekend, they will confront a Queensland Country side who could finish in second spot with a win.
They will also confront a side they have not beaten since round one, 2014.
Ryan said: “This group has probably underperformed.” He added: "There’s been a few reasons for that. But at the end of the day, it’s a results-based game. So we're disappointed and we look to finish the season off on a high.”
On a positive note, Ryan said the Brisbane City clash saw the “emergence of some guys who hadn’t really had a great crack yet, and they really took advantage of what they had”.
“I'm thinking particularly of [fly half] Rohan Saifoloi,” he said, “a bloke who’s probably been a bit unlucky in not getting a go in Super Rugby, through injury and a few other things not going his way.
“But here he is, sort of mid 20s [in age], proving himself to be able to compete with the likes of Quade Cooper last week. So I’d love to see how he goes against [Queensland Country fly half] Hamish Stewart tomorrow [Saturday], and hopefully the forwards can lay a good platform for him.”
It is also homecoming for Ryan’s former Pirates teammate, Mick Snowden, who debuted for the Waratahs last season. He played only one game. However, the former Rebel had thought that his Super Rugby days were over.
Ryan said it was “great to see” Snowden get a Waratahs game and travel to Tamworth with the Eagles. The scrum half, 30, will start on the bench on Saturday.
“He’s a great bloke, great rugby man,” Ryan said.