EMBRACING the “shock” and “honour”, Orange CYMS five-eighth Ben McAlpine has been called in to make his NSW Country firsts debut.
McAlpine’s dream 2013 continued last Sunday when the Dave Scott Medallist was informed by Country Rugby League chairman of selectors Jock Colley he’d be on a plane to South Africa with the touring squad next Tuesday.
Taking out this year’s Group 10 Player of the Year gong, a premiership with CYMS and man of the match honours in his side’s 22-14 triumph all in his stride, this latest accolade nearly floored the unflappable back.
“It’s a bit of a shock,” McAlpine said, adding a NSW Country jumper to his Western Division and Group 10 ones in 2013.
He represented NSW Country seconds in 2010.
“They rang me about a week ago to see if I was available. I said I was but I didn’t hear back from them for a while,” he continued.
“When they rang me again I was shocked.”
After McAlpine received a glowing endorsement from CYMS captain-coach Mick Sullivan as well as Young-based Country selector Neville Small - he played with Young in Group Nine in 2012 - Colley was the man to deliver the news.
“Initially I didn’t think he believed me,” Colley said.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity.”
Having the final say on all selections, Colley said he’d seen first hand the ability of McAlpine this season, with the CRL chairman able to watch the 29-year-old team up with son Brent throughout the year with CYMS.
NSW Country coach and former St George Dragons forward David Barnhill is also a big fan having witnessed the CYMS five-eighth play representative football earlier this year.
McAlpine is one of two players in the 18-man squad to be picked outside of CRL powerhouse regions Central Coast, newcastle and Illawarra.
Colley said the “elite” level of rugby league in the tier one competitions lent itself to producing high calibre representative players, the fact McAlpine is able to mix it with such players is a perfect “reflection of his ability.”
“He’s very keen and he’s treating the achievement as an honour, which is great. He won’t let anyone down,” Colley said.
Country NSW will play a SARL combined clubs side at Silverton Rugby Club on October 12 before taking on the South African national team, the Rhinos, at Bosman Stadium on October 18.
Colley predicted the Rhinos to be extremely physical.
McAlpine and NSW Country will fly out for South Africa next Tuesday.
n NSW COUNTRY FIRSTS: 1 Brad Scott (Western Suburbs, Illawarra), 2 Tim Smith (Greater Northern Tigers), 3 Ben McAlpine (Orange CYMS, Western Division), 4 Simon Williams (Western Suburbs, Newcastle), 5 Jason Raper (Helensburgh, Illawarra), 6 Riley Brown (Cessnock, Newcastle), 7 Alex Moore (Berkeley Vale, Central Coast), 8 Rory O’Brien (Collegians, Illawarra), 9 Terence Seuseu (Cessnock, Newcastle), 10 Brendan Worth (Cessnock, Newcastle), 11 Matt Shipway (South Newcastle, Newcastle), 12 Brendan Hlad (Cessnock, Newcastle), 13 Jamie Feeney (Erina, Central Coast); 14 Benson Tupou (Dapto, Illawarra), 15 Damien Paulissen (Shellharbour, Illawarra), 16 Chris Hyde (Woy Woy, Central Coast), 17 Trent Grubb (Western Suburbs, Illawarra), 18 Greg Reh (Western Suburbs, Illawarra).