Long before becoming a regular on the Allianz Stadium playing surface, Country Rugby ambassador Pat McCutcheon was running around with his brothers on the country paddocks of his home town.
The 24-year-old flanker hails from Narromine, 40km west of Dubbo in the Orange region of NSW and played his junior rugby for the Macquarie Emus, a combined district team representing Narromine, Trangie, Nevertire and Warren. As an Under 12, he also captained the Central West team through the Primary School Sport Association competition.
“I can’t really compare having never grown up in the city but I wouldn’t change my upbringing for anything. I can just remember constantly being in the mud and the dirt and being able to run free and wild which is great for any kid.
“Narromine’s a great little town of about three and a half thousand people. We have a really strong little rugby community; and the Narromine Gorillas have been quite successful in the last few years winning three minor premierships.
“My fondest memory of rugby in the bush is playing a gala day once a month where we’d get to play five, six or seven games maybe. My team the Macquarie Emus were built around five or six towns within a radius of 200km, we’d come together once a month and put on the green and blue striped jersey, the hoops, and we’d run out there and play. We’d just be like seagulls after a chip, it was great.”
Two hours before his HSBC Waratahs teammates take to the pitch against the Hurricanes tomorrow evening, McCutcheon and his Cardigan Corgi puppy Wally will be cheering on the GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos as they take on NSW Suburban in the curtain raiser.
“It’s a different game in the country. There are a lot of passionate blokes out there that really enjoy their Rugby and a lot of those country farmers are tough buggers so they will do anything to win a game. It’s definitely a breeding ground for stars of the future; I don’t think you can underestimate the country game.”
McCutcheon recalls one memory he will never forget, playing alongside one of the all-time legends of country and Australian rugby, David Lyons.
“I was fortunate to play a couple of games alongside him at Sydney University, it was great. He’s a Molong boy, he had all the right characteristics, he was down to earth, he said what he was going to do and he always went out and did it. And then after the game he’d always crack a tin and I love that.”
Having undergone his second surgery earlier this month to remove two pins from the ankle he fractured at the start of the season, McCutcheon’s rehab is well on track. “I can now start weight training,” he said, adding, “After spending three long months on crutches, to be able to walk on my own again is a massive relief to say the least.”
McCutcheon admits to feeling for his teammates this season with a horrific run of injuries, which included his own, sustained scoring his first – and only - Super Rugby try in the third match of the season against the Highlanders.
“It’s been tough on the sidelines, you’re obviously emotionally attached to the team as they’re like your family and we go through so much together.” Unfortunately there is little McCutcheon can do to help in an on-field capacity this year. “All I can do is give them that emotional support and make sure I’m doing my rehab properly so I can get back and help them on the paddock as soon as possible.”
As Country Rugby Night hosts, Pat McCutcheon and his puppy Wally will be at Allianz Stadium tomorrow, June 2, hosting Country Rugby Night, Saturday evening will be hosted by NSW’s Narromine-born flanker. As well as the curtain raiser between the GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos and NSW Subbies at 5.15pm, there are plenty of reasons to get to the ground early. Pick up your free Volvo seat cushion on your way in to the ground, test your skills on the Volvo interactive skills station, upload your photos with HSBC’s photo booth and enjoy the ever-popular face painting, all located with the forecourt area by Gate A, open from 5pm. Half time will once again see the HSBC high ball challenge and it’s flash flags at the ready as one spectator will win $5000 with HSBC’s Flash for Cash.
Tickets for the FxPro Super Rugby clash between the HSBC Waratahs and Hurricanes include the Cockatoos v Subbies curtain raiser and are available online from Ticketek priced from $20 for adults, $10 for juniors and $50 for a family of four.