Any diehard rugby fan has met Andrew Kellaway before. He’s that low-key guy who becomes a well-rounded footballer in his specialist position before becoming a surprise Wallaby.
Think Rob Egerton, Scott Fardy, Mark Connors, Lloyd Walker and so many others.
If these players weren’t surprise picks when their chances finally came, they were definitely selected mid-career not as young guns being rushed to the starting line.
Talk to anyone about the Wallabies’ mixed season against France and the All Blacks and this line is always in there somewhere, “Gee, Kellaway has played better than I ever thought.”
When you’ve learnt your wing trade over more than 80 top-level games, you’re half a chance. That part shouldn’t surprise anyone except those who consistently undervalue experience.
Kellaway has built his playing for the NSW Waratahs, Melbourne Rebels, Northampton, Counties Manukau and Japan’s NEC Green Rockets. Every rugby adventure has made him more self-reliant, more confident and better planned regarding game weeks.
The rust-haired winger has done his job extremely efficiently. He hasn’t been bullied by any Frenchman, he’s caught the kick-offs the Kiwis have targeted him with and thrown plenty of endeavour back at them.
Composure, it’s called.
He’s picked up three tries and that set-play gem he finished off, from the long lineout throw at Eden Park, will remain one of the tries of the season.
The most relevant comparison is Egerton. He was always a good player at wing or fullback for Sydney University but there were always more fashionable types to pick.
When he did finally earn his chance at 28 in 1991, he went on a ripping run.
He scored a super try to help beat the All Blacks in Sydney and won a World Cup at Twickenham. He played nine Tests and his Wallabies’ career was all done inside four months. It was a quick, spectacular ride.
David Campese was his superstar wing partner throughout that year which tells you another thing.
You need your stars but role players like Kellaway and Egerton are just as important to the make-up of a winning side.
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Kellaway’s run may not reach 20 Tests. Maybe, it will. What you can bank on is a hungry player who knows this is the chance he thought might never come.
Just like Fardy, Connors and Walker.
In Perth on Sunday, he’ll play for the Wallabies as if there’s no tomorrow. That in itself is an attitude that works for any side.