AT the start of this season, Nick Duffy was just rapt at making the St Joseph’s College First XV.
A former Kinross Wolaroi School student, the 18-year-old has spent the last two years boarding at the renowned rugby union nursery and spent the entire 2013 season running around in the schools fourth XV in the Greater Public Schools (GPS) rugby competition.
But this year things changed.
In a big way.
“GPS teams got picked and I got picked in that ... but I was planning on going home so I sent all of my gear home. The teams came out and I was stoked about that,” Duffy said.
Taking on the Combined High Schools and Combined Associated Schools teams at the NSW All Schools carnival, Duffy shone at the base of the scrum for GPS and caught the eye of state selectors ahead of the Australian Schools Rugby Championship at Riverview in Sydney.
But again with NSW teams to be named, Duffy sent most of his gear packing.
It was a similar story after the national championships too.
Only this time he’d earned an Australian jumper as part of the Australian Schoolboys rugby union side to tour New Zealand for games against Fiji Schools, New Zealand Barbarians and New Zealand Schools.
“I had no idea I was going to get picked for the schoolboys team. It was a big surprise, but a good one,” the livewire halfback said.
“It’ll be a massive moment [playing New Zealand], I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
“I can’t wait to stand in front of the New Zealand boys doing the haka ... that’ll be amazing as well.”
For a player who’s called upon dedication and hard work more than raw talent, a spot on the plane to New Zealand is a massive reward for the former Dubbo Roos junior.
“It is, exactly,” Duffy said, his family now based in Orange.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work. I was in the fourths at Joey’s last year and did a lot of extra stuff that helped my game a lot.
“I never made any selection in any [representative] junior teams growing up, and finally to get into one was awesome.”
After moving from Dubbo, Duffy spent time at St Stanislaus College where be played in the Independent Schools Association rugby competition.
He moved to Kinross for the 2012 season and won the ISA under 16s premiership with the Orange-based school.
Duffy credits his coaches this year at Joey’s with the stark transformation in his game.
“It’s hard to say, but this year Mr Anderson and Mr Thompson have backed me all the way,” Duffy said.
“I’ve got to thank them a lot. Probably Junior Gold as well, James Grant."
Duffy is just one of two St Joseph’s College players in the Australian side - five-eighth Connor O’Shea is the other - following in the footsteps of Wallabies legend Matt Burke and current Australian representative Kurtley Beale.
“[O’Shea’s] knowledge and he’s understanding of the game has helped me a lot. It’s made it easier for me to fit into the team,” Duffy said.
Duffy will tour New Zealand from September 23.