‘I’d never thought I’d play professionally’: McInerney reflects on wild journey to Wallabies debut

Thu, 21/10/2021, 05:58 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallabies win 4 in a row in 2021 as they down the Pumas at CBUS stadium

For Brumbies hooker Connal McInerney, getting the chance to 'hold pads' and travel with the Wallabies was more than enough reward.

So it was natural when it was announced he would be making his Wallabies debut, a rush of emotions hit the 26-year-old.

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“Absolutely over the moon,” he told reporters on Thursday. “It’s been a long journey and to get the call from Dave was unbelievable.

“I got pretty emotional straight away. I called my girlfriend straight away and tried to hold it all together.

“To be in the 23, I thought I would be holding pads for this whole tour but even then, I was happy to just be a part of it.

“I had to hide some emotions pretty quickly. Head went into my hands for a second because I knew straight away someone would be filming so I got up and acted all tough as if nothing fazed me but it did.“

McInerney's 2021 has been less than ideal, in and out of the Brumbies squad after a broken fibula whilst competing with two Wallabies hookers in Folau Fainga'a and Lachlan Lonergan.

He would then suffer a head knock whilst training with the squad as injury cover during the French series.

With no expectations, McInerney's 'nothing to lose' attitude paid off as coach Dave Rennie continues the search for his replacement hooker, with Brumbies teammate Folau Fainga'a all but locked into the starting role.

“I went in (the squad) with a mindset of nothing to lose,” McInerney said.

“When I got here, I then thought I can probably push for something more and that’s what I did. I tried to train hard, pick up on all the detail over the last week just in case I was selected and here we are.”


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The call-up caps a remarkable journey for the former Easts hooker, praising Brumbies and Wallabies forwards coach Dan McKellar, who gave him the initial call-up to Super Rugby after an early wake-up call in his career.

“I was pretty conformable with playing Shute Shield (in 2018) and I never thought I would play professionally let alone for the Wallabies,” he admitted.

“It’s been a long and tough journey but I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had with the Brumbies and to be able to be back to this level.

“(Dan) was the first game to say I wasn’t ready for Super Rugby out of that Aussies 20s program. That was tough to hear but he wasn’t wrong so I went away for a couple of years and he gave me a call to see where I was at and I was a lot better developed and ready for Super Rugby.”

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