Mann-Rea may get another Test shot
RUGBY UNION: When Josh Mann-Rea ran out on to the Noosa rugby league fields as a 13-year-old for the Pirates, he could only dream of representing his country.
In 48 hours, the most unexpected Test career in Wallabies history will have another chance to blossom when Mann-Rea flies out to South Africa to prepare for next weekend's Springbok Test.
The former Noosa junior may have switched codes, but he has never given up on the dream of donning the green and gold.
Now 33, the former coalminer, who is the ninth-ranked hooker in Australia, has been called into the tour squad of 28, joining fellow hookers James Hanson and Saia Fainga'a.
Mann-Rea replaced Fainga'a on the bench against South Africa a fortnight ago in Perth, but was not required to play.
He's hoping he gets another chance to make his maiden Test appearance on the tour to South Africa and Argentina.
"You dream of it as a younger fella, but when you get older it gets harder to achieve it," Mann-Rea said.
"To now get a call-up for a Wallabies tour is something I would not have dreamed could happen."
Mann-Rea's selection is the latest chapter in his amazing story.
HE WAS working in the Wollongong coalmines just a few years ago before taking up a three-year rugby contract in Japan.
He signed a one-year deal with the New South Wales Waratahs on his return but broke his thumb, prompting thoughts of retirement.
Mann-Rea agreed to a $40,000 a year extended squad contract with the Brumbies and featured in their Super Rugby finals campaign this year.
"I think I am ready to play at this level," Mann-Rea said.
"All I can do is get confidence out of training by preparing myself the best I can.
"I have gotten a fair bit of confidence in these last few games and it was good to play with the Brumbies in the finals this year, but you don't know until you get out there."
Mann-Rea may get that opportunity in South Africa next week or against Argentina on October 4, if Hanson or Fainga'a are sidelined by injury.
"It is hard to say whether I will get to play and I really don't know," he said.
"If you are named and picked, hopefully you get the opportunity to get on the field."