Tears of a Wallaby: The Test call-up that shows what it means to play for the Wallabies

The Rugby Championship
by Christy Doran

At the start of the year James Ramm thought he'd be like any other rugby fan in the country.

He was going to buy a ticket to watch the Wallabies, probably with a beer in one hand and a pie in the other.

He might have been training with the Waratahs, but he had yet to debut and was simply wanting to "string a couple of games together" and earn a "start".

Over the coming months, it could well be that the public buys a ticket to watch him play.

The 22-year-old winger from St Joseph's Hunters Hill is in Dave Rennie's 44-man Wallabies squad for the 2020 season.

Crowded together for a Sunday morning breakfast with his family earlier on September 13, it was there the phone lit up.

"It was Sunday morning," Ramm said.

"We were hanging about.

"We knew the calls were going to come pretty soon.

"I was with my family.

"The call came from an unknown number, it was Scott Wisemantal and as soon as I got the call my family all freaked out and ran into the other room. They didn't know what was going to happen. He just told me that I had been selected. My mum and sisters, there may have been some tears there.

"It was an amazing morning."

Ramm's selection comes off the back of a breakout season for the Waratahs, where the former Australian gymnast turned winger has shown a clean pair of heals and ability to find the tryline.

While John Eales Medalist Marika Koroibete, Queensland Reds flyer Filipo Daugunu and NRL convert Tom Wright are the wingers front of mind at the moment, Ramm says Rennie has made it clear that no jersey is safe.

"You take what you can from those older players and you really try to learn off them, they've had the experience, they've done it all before so you try and learn and watch them pretty closely," Ramm said.

"But you're right, we're not here just to make up the numbers.

"The coaches have made it really clear that you've got to fight for your reps and they're not going to tell us, 'you have a go here, you have a go there'.

"The onus is on us to get involved and put a stake out there for a jersey - everyone's up for grabs."

Chances are that at some point Ramm will get his opportunity.

The Wallabies will play eight Tests in 2020 and six of them will come in as many weeks during The Rugby Championship, including five in New South Wales.

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What will please frustrated Australian rugby fans too is that there's a renewed energy at the Wallabies.

Training was never easy under predecessor Michael Cheika, but with a new coach comes a need to impress.

Physicality and intensity is the order of the day.

"I don't know if there's been any literal blood yet, but the intensity is certainly there," Ramm said.

"You've got the big boys going at it. It's been the focus point that they want intensity, they want that physicality across the park. I'd say there will be plenty of blood to come."